Leica M9 vs Nikon D3400
The Leica M9 and the Nikon D3400 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and August 2016. The M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the D3400 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and an APS-C (D3400) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
|Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 80-2500||ISO 100-25600|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.5" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|2 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g||124 x 98 x 76 mm, 445 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the Nikon D3400? 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 D3400 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D3400 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, red).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3400 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Leica M9. However, the D3400 is markedly lighter (24 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the D3400 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. 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 (D3400).
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.
|Leica M9»||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3400«||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.7 oz||1200||n||Aug 2016||499||Nikon D3400|
|Canon T5i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica T« »||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.5 oz||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113« »||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.1 in||17.1 oz||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario« »||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.7 in||24.0 oz||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3500« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||12.9 oz||1550||n||Aug 2018||429||Nikon D3500|
|Nikon D5600« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||16.4 oz||970||n||Nov 2016||699||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D5500« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||2.8 in||14.8 oz||820||n||Jan 2015||899||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300« »||4.9 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||15.2 oz||700||n||Jan 2014||499||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3200« »||4.9 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||17.8 oz||540||n||Apr 2012||599||Nikon D3200|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D3400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 94 percent) than the M9, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 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 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 D3400 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3400 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D3400 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the D3400 is much more recent (by 6 years and 11 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.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3400 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3400 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M9 are 26.1 x 17.4 inch or 66.2 x 44.1 cm for good quality, 20.8 x 13.9 inch or 53 x 35.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.4 x 11.6 inch or 44.1 x 29.4 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 D3400 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
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 consideration, the D3400 offers substantially better image quality than the M9 (overall score 17 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.3 bits higher color depth, 2.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 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.
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3400||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||13.9||1192||86||Nikon D3400|
|Canon T5i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica T||APS-C||16.2||4944||3278||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||1082||75||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Nikon D3500|
|Nikon D5600||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1306||84||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D5500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.1||14.0||1438||84||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.8||1385||82||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3200||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/30p||24.1||13.2||1131||81||Nikon D3200|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D3400 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3400 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M9 and the D3400 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 viewfinder in the M9 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D3400 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the M9 has a higher magnification (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 D3400 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3400|
|Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica T||optional||n||3.7||1300||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3500||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3500|
|Nikon D5600||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D5500||optical||n||3.2||1037||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3200||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D3200|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3400 has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3400 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M9 and the D3400 write their files to SDXC cards. The D3400 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M9 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 D3400 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3400||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3400|
|Canon T5i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica T||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||Y||-||-||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Nikon D3500||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y||Nikon D3500|
|Nikon D5600||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D5600|
|Nikon D5500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D5500|
|Nikon D3300||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3300|
|Nikon D3200||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3200|
Both the M9 and the D3400 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the D3400 was followed by the Nikon D3500. 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 what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M9 and the Nikon D3400? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.68x vs 0.57x).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3400:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 18.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 15%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (17 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- 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 (921k vs 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 140g or 24 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (94 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3400 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 4 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M9 or the D3400 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Leica M9
- Canon 200D vs Leica M9
- Canon 250D vs Leica M9
- Canon 300D vs Leica M9
- Canon 450D vs Nikon D3400
- Canon 5DS R vs Leica M9
- Leica M9 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Leica M9 vs Sony RX100 II
- Leica Q Typ 116 vs Nikon D3400
- Leitz Ur-Leica vs Nikon D3400
- Nikon D3400 vs Panasonic GH2
- Nikon D3400 vs Samsung NX30
Specifications: Leica M9 vs Nikon D3400
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 D3400|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||August 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 7999||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5212 x 3472 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.91 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.09 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||80-2500 ISO||100-25600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||69||86|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||884||1192|
|Screen Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M9||Nikon D3400|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
124 x 98 x 76 mm
(4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||585 g (20.6 oz)||445 g (15.7 oz)|
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