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Leica M9 vs Panasonic FZ100

The Leica M9 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and July 2010. The M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the FZ100 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and a 1/2.3-inch (FZ100) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 14 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 Panasonic FZ100
Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
Leica M mount lenses 25-600mm f/2.8-5.2
18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor 14 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-2,500 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (202k dots)
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
2 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g 124 x 82 x 92 mm, 540 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100? 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 Panasonic FZ100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the FZ100 is only available in black.

Size Leica M9 vs Panasonic FZ100
Compare M9 versus FZ100 top
Comparison M9 or FZ100 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic FZ100 is notably smaller (9 percent) than the Leica M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the FZ100 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the FZ100 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 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Panasonic FZ100 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 540 g 410 n Jul 2010 499i
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon SX40 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 600 g 380 n Sep 2011 429i
 
Canon SX30 123 mm 92 mm 108 mm 601 g 370 n Sep 2010 429i
 
Canon 550D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 500D 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Panasonic FZ200 125 mm 87 mm 110 mm 588 g 540 n Jul 2012 599i
 
Panasonic FZ150 124 mm 82 mm 92 mm 528 g 410 n Aug 2011 499i
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 FZ100 was launched at a lower price than the M9, despite having a lens built in. 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 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. 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 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 Panasonic FZ100 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the FZ100 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 FZ100 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica M9 and Panasonic FZ100 sensor measures

With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the FZ100 (14MP), but the M9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 1.41μm for the FZ100) due to its larger sensor. However, the FZ100 is a somewhat more recent model (by 10 months) than the M9, and its sensor might 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 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 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 Panasonic FZ100 are 21.6 x 16.2 inches or 54.9 x 41.1 cm for good quality, 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.4 x 10.8 inches or 36.6 x 27.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

M9 versus FZ100 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
 
Panasonic FZ100 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
 
Canon SX40 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/24p........
 
Canon SX30 1/2.3 14.0 4320 3240720/30p........
 
Canon 550D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
 
Canon 500D APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none........
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Panasonic FZ200 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.110.811437
 
Panasonic FZ150 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p19.410.913240
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The FZ100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the FZ100 can use is 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the FZ100 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), while the M9 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica M9 and Panasonic FZ100 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
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(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
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
 
Panasonic FZ100202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon SX40202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 10.3 Y Y
 
Canon SX30202 n 2.7 230 swivel n 1/3200s 0.6 Y Y
 
Canon 550Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
 
Canon 500Doptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Leica M10-Poptical n 3.0 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica X Variooptional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Panasonic FZ2001312 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic FZ150202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The FZ100 has one, while the M9 does not. While the built-in flash of the FZ100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The FZ100 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.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M9 and the FZ100 write their files to SDXC cards.

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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic FZ100Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon SX40Ystereomono--YES2.0---
 
Canon SX30Ystereomono--YES2.0---
 
Canon 550DYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 500DYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica M10-PY------Y--
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica X VarioYstereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic FZ200YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Panasonic FZ150Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the M9 and the FZ100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M9 was replaced by the Leica M Typ 240, while the FZ100 was followed by the Panasonic FZ150. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica M9 better than the Panasonic FZ100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Leica M9:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 14MP) with a 16% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2009).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • 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).
  • 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 (11 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M9 necessitates an extra lens.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the M9).
  • 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.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (10 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the FZ100 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 10 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.

M9 10:13 FZ100

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M9 and the FZ100 in practical situations. 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica M9....4.5/54.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
 
Panasonic FZ100+..4.5/5..4.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
 
Canon 700D..76/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
 
Canon SX40+..4.5/55/54/5 Sep 2011 429i
 
Canon SX30+ +..3.5/54.5/54/5 Sep 2010 429i
 
Canon 550D+ +77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
 
Canon 500D+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Leica M10-P........4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X Typ 113....3.5/5..4/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
 
Leica X Vario....4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
 
Leica M Typ 240....4/5.... Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Panasonic FZ200+ +80/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jul 2012 599i
 
Panasonic FZ150+ +76/1004/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 499i
 
Panasonic G3+ +75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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
Panasonic FZ100:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Leica M9 vs Panasonic FZ100

    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 Panasonic FZ100
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses 25-600mm f/2.8-5.2
    Launch Date September 2009 July 2010
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm 6.17 x 4.55 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 14 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5212 x 3472 pixels 4320 x 3240 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm 1.41 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2 49.86 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 2,500 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 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 Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    Viewfinder Resolution 202k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 11 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 no
    Connectivity Specs Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica M9 Panasonic FZ100
    Battery Type BLI-312 DMW-BMB9
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    124 x 82 x 92 mm
    (4.9 x 3.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz) 540 g (19.0 oz)

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