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Leica M9 vs Olympus E-600

The Leica M9 and the Olympus E-600 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2009 and August 2009. The M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the E-600 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and a Four Thirds (E-600) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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
Olympus E-600
Leica M9   Olympus E-600
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 80-2,500 ISO 100-3,200
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
2 shutter flaps per second 4 shutter flaps per second
no shake reductionIn-body stabilization
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g 130 x 94 x 60 mm, 535 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the Olympus E-600? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Olympus E-600 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 E-600 is only available in black.

Size Leica M9 vs Olympus E-600
Compare M9 versus E-600 top
Comparison M9 or E-600 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-600 is notably larger (10 percent) than the Leica M9. However, the E-600 is markedly lighter (9 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the E-600 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 Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-600).

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras 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.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
3.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
4.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
5.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
6.
 
Leica M10-R 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jul 2020 8,295 i
7.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
10.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
11.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
12.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-450 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-600 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 94 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.

Sensor comparison

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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M9 features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-600 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-600 is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the M9 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-600 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica M9 and Olympus E-600 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the E-600 (12.2MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 4.29μm for the E-600) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. 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 Olympus E-600 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 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 Olympus E-600 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200 (no boost).

M9 versus E-600 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the M9 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-600, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 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.

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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.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
3.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
4.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
5.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
6.
 
Leica M10-R Full Frame 40.9 7864 5200none25.314.3292495
7.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none25.114.1273993
8.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
10.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
11.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
12.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
13.
 
Olympus E-450 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.551256
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
15.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
16.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
17.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-600 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M9 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M9 and the E-600 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 E-600 (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 0.48x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M9 and Olympus E-600 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
3.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
5.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
6.
 
Leica M10-Roptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5 n n
7.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
8.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
12.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
13.
 
Olympus E-450optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
17.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The E-600 has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the E-600 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The E-600 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the M9 does not have a selfie-screen.

The M9 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-600 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-600 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M9 only has one slot.

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 Olympus E-600 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.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Leica M10-RY- / -----Y--
7.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
8.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
12.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-450Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---

Both the M9 and the E-600 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the E-600 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica M9 better than the Olympus E-600 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 12.2MP) with a 24% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 0.48x).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.

ilogo

Advantages of the Olympus E-600:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (94 percent cheaper at launch).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the E-600 comes out slightly ahead of the M9 (9 : 8 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.

M9 08:09 E-600

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M9 or the E-600. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. 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.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
3.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
4.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
5.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
6.
 
Leica M10-R4.5/5..4/5....4/5 Jul 2020 8,295 i
7.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
8.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
9.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
10.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
11.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
12.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-450........4/54/5 Mar 2009 499i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
15.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
16.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
17.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-600:
Check Ebay offers

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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica M9 vs Olympus E-600

    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 Olympus E-600
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 August 2009
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 449
    Sensor Specs Leica M9 Olympus E-600
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 18.1 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5212 x 3472 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 2,500 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 69 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.5 21.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.7 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 884 541
    Screen Specs Leica M9 Olympus E-600
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x 0.48x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Leica M9 Olympus E-600
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 4 shutter flaps/s
    Image Stabilizationno shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica M9 Olympus E-600
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica M9 Olympus E-600
    Battery Type BLI-312 BLS-1
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    130 x 94 x 60 mm
    (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz) 535 g (18.9 oz)

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