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Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

The Leica M9 and the Olympus Tough TG-5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and May 2017. The M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the TG-5 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and a 1/2.3-inch (TG-5) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Headline Specifications
Leica M9   Olympus TG-5
Leica M9 Olympus TG-5
Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
Leica M mount lenses 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9
18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 12 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 80-2500 ISO 100-12800
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.5" LCD, 230k dots 3.0" LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2 shutter flaps per second 20 shutter flaps per second
No shake reductionIn-body stabilization
Not weather sealedWaterproof body (15m)
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g 113 x 66 x 32 mm, 250 g

Body comparison: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

The physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the Olympus TG-5 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Compare Leica M9 and Olympus TG-5
Compare M9 versus TG-5 top
Compare M9 or TG-5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus TG-5 is considerably smaller (33 percent) than the Leica M9. It is noteworthy in this context that the TG-5 is splash and dust-proof, while the M9 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing. More than that, the TG-5 is water-proof up to 15m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the TG-5 has a lens built in, whereas the M9 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the M9 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.

The power pack in the TG-5 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica M9» 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Olympus TG-5« 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.3 in 8.8 oz 340 Y May 2017 449 i i Olympus TG-5
Canon SX730« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.6 in 10.6 oz 250 n Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
Canon T5i« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.5 oz 440 n Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Fujifilm XP130« » 4.3 in 2.8 in 1.1 in 7.3 oz 240 n Jan 2018 229- i Fujifilm XP130
Leica M10-P« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i 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 i i Leica X Vario
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Nikon W300« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.1 in 8.1 oz 280 Y May 2017 389 i i Nikon W300
Olympus E-PM1« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.3 in 9.3 oz 330 n Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Panasonic TS7« » 4.6 in 3.0 in 1.5 in 11.3 oz 300 Y May 2018 449 i i Panasonic TS7

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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 TG-5 was launched at a lower price than the M9, despite having a lens built in. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 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 Olympus TG-5 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the TG-5 is 97 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 5.6. The sensor in the M9 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the TG-5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica M9 and Olympus TG-5 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the TG-5 (12MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 1.53μm for the TG-5) due to its larger sensor. However, the TG-5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 7 years and 8 months) than the M9, and its sensor might 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 Leica M9 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 2500 The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Tough TG-5 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).

M9 versus TG-5 MP

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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica M9» Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
Olympus TG-5« 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30004K/30p----Olympus TG-5
Canon SX730« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p----Canon SX730
Canon T5i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161Canon T5i
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466Canon T2i
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363Canon T1i
Fujifilm XP130« » 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p----Fujifilm XP130
Leica M10-P« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-----Leica M10-P
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275Leica T
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084Leica M Typ 240
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8
Nikon W300« » 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34564K/30p----Nikon W300
Olympus E-PM1« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i21.010.349952Olympus E-PM1
Panasonic TS7« » 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38884K/30p----Panasonic TS7

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The TG-5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the TG-5 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M9 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TG-5 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M9 and Olympus TG-5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Leica M9»optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n Leica M9
Olympus TG-5«- n 3.0 460 fixed n 2000 20.0 Y Y Olympus TG-5
Canon SX730« »- n 3.0 922 tilting n 3200 5.9 Y Y Canon SX730
Canon T5i« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon T5i
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n Canon T1i
Fujifilm XP130« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Fujifilm XP130
Leica M10-P« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10-P
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n Leica T
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n Leica M Typ 240
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n Leica M8
Nikon W300« »- n 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 7.0 Y Y Nikon W300
Olympus E-PM1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 5.5 n Y Olympus E-PM1
Panasonic TS7« »1170 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1300 10.0 Y Y Panasonic TS7

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The TG-5 has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the TG-5 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 TG-5 write their files to SDXC cards.

 

Connectivity comparison: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

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 Tough TG-5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica M9»Y-----2.0---Leica M9
Olympus TG-5«-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus TG-5
Canon SX730« »-stereomono--micro2.0YYYCanon SX730
Canon T5i« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Canon T5i
Canon T2i« »Ystereo-Y-mini2.0---Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »Ymonomono--mini2.0---Canon T1i
Fujifilm XP130« »-monomono--micro2.0Y-YFujifilm XP130
Leica M10-P« »Y------Y--Leica M10-P
Leica M10« »Y------Y--Leica M10
Leica T« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica T
Leica X Typ 113« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
Leica X Vario« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
Leica M Typ 240« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica M Typ 240
Leica M8« »Y-----2.0---Leica M8
Nikon W300« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y-YNikon W300
Olympus E-PM1« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Olympus E-PM1
Panasonic TS7« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic TS7

It is notable that the M9 has a hotshoe, while the TG-5 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

The TG-5 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Olympus. In contrast, the M9 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M9 was succeeded by the Leica M Typ 240.


Review summary: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

So how do things add up? Is the Leica M9 better than the Olympus TG-5 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 12MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: Larger pixels generate images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • 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).

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Advantages of the Olympus Tough TG-5:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/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 (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M9 necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x66mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the M9).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Water-proof: Can be used in the rain and for underwater photography (up to 15m).
  • 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 at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 8 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TG-5 emerges as the winner of the match-up (15 : 12 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

M9 12:15 TG-5

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M9 or the TG-5 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica M9»--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Olympus TG-5«HiRec-4/5rev4/5 May 2017 449 i i Olympus TG-5
Canon SX730« »Rec-4/5-4/5 Apr 2017 399- i Canon SX730
Canon T5i« »-76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649- i Canon T5i
Canon T2i« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i Canon T2i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i Canon T1i
Fujifilm XP130« »rev-3.5/5-4/5 Jan 2018 229- i Fujifilm XP130
Leica M10-P« »----4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i i Leica M10-P
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i Leica M Typ 240
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Nikon W300« »Rec-4/5-4/5 May 2017 389 i i Nikon W300
Olympus E-PM1« »86/10071/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2011 499- i Olympus E-PM1
Panasonic TS7« »Rec---3.5/5 May 2018 449 i i Panasonic TS7

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus TG-5:
Check Amazon price

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Leica M9 vs Olympus TG-5

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Leica M9 Olympus TG-5
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses 25-100mm f/2.0-4.9
    Launch Date September 2009 May 2017
    Launch Price USD 7999 USD 449
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CCD BSI-CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 6.17 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 18.1 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5212 x 3472 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80-2500 ISO 100-12800 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
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder No viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% n/a
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x n/a
    LCD Framing n/a Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Autofocus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/4000s 1/2000s
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 20 shutter flaps/s
    Image StabilizationNo shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingNot weather sealedWaterproof body (15m)
    Battery Type BLI-312 power pack LI-92B power pack
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    113 x 66 x 32 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz) 250 g (8.8 oz)

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