Leica M9 vs Olympus E-PL7
The Leica M9 and the Olympus PEN E-PL7 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and August 2014. The M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless, while the E-PL7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and a Four Thirds (E-PL7) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 Olympus PEN E-PL7? 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 physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Olympus E-PL7 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-PL7 is considerably smaller (31 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the E-PL7 is substantially lighter (39 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the E-PL7 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 Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PL7).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.||Olympus E-PL7||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Aug 2014||599|
|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.||Olympus E-PL8||115 mm||67 mm||38 mm||357 g||350||n||Sep 2016||549|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||n||Jan 2014||699|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|17.||Olympus E-PL6||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||May 2013||599|
|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 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-PL7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 93 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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-PL7 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL7 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-PL7 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL7 (15.9MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 3.76μm for the E-PL7) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-PL7 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 11 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 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-PL7 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 PEN E-PL7 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|2.||Olympus E-PL7||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.4||873||72|
|6.||Leica M10-R||Full Frame||40.9||7864||5200||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|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|
|13.||Olympus E-PL8||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|17.||Olympus E-PL6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The E-PL7 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PL7 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 E-PL7 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL7 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-4. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M9 and Olympus E-PL7 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.||Olympus E-PL7||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|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.||Olympus E-PL8||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||1440||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Olympus E-PL6||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The E-PL7 has a touchscreen, while the M9 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The E-PL7 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 Olympus E-PL7 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M9 and the E-PL7 write their files to SDXC cards. The E-PL7 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 Olympus PEN E-PL7 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.||Olympus E-PL7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|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.||Olympus E-PL8||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Olympus E-PL6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the E-PL7 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 E-PL7 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the E-PL7 was followed by the Olympus E-PL8. 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M9 and the Olympus E-PL7? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 15.9MP) with a 9% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- 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 Olympus PEN E-PL7:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (0.7 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p 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 (1037k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (115x67mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 228g or 39 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (93 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 11 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PL7 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 5 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 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 E-PL7. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.||Olympus E-PL7||4/5||+||..||..||5/5||4/5||Aug 2014||599|
|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.||Olympus E-PL8||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2016||549|
|14.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|15.||Olympus E-M10||4/5||..||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||Jan 2014||699|
|16.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||..||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|17.||Olympus E-PL6||..||..||..||..||..||..||May 2013||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. 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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1300D vs Leica M9
- Canon M100 vs Olympus E-PL7
- Fujifilm GFX 50S vs Olympus E-PL7
- Kodak AZ901 vs Olympus E-PL7
- Leica M9 vs Leica X-U Typ 113
- Leica M9 vs Nikon D3300
- Leica M9 vs Nikon P1000
- Leica M9 vs Panasonic GX800
- Leica M9 vs Panasonic S1
- Nikon 1 J5 vs Olympus E-PL7
- Olympus E-PL7 vs Sony A7R III
- Olympus E-PL7 vs Sony A99 II
Specifications: Leica M9 vs Olympus E-PL7
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||Olympus E-PL7|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||August 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 7,999||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M9||Olympus E-PL7|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5212 x 3472 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.91 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.09 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 2,500 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||69||72|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||12.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||884||873|
|Screen Specs||Leica M9||Olympus E-PL7|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M9||Olympus E-PL7|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board 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||Olympus E-PL7|
|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||Olympus E-PL7|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
115 x 67 x 38 mm
(4.5 x 2.6 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||585 g (20.6 oz)||357 g (12.6 oz)|
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