Leica M9 vs Panasonic S1R
The Leica M9 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and February 2019. The M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless, while the S1R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 46.7 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R? 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 Panasonic S1R 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S1R is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic S1R is considerably larger (47 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the S1R is substantially heavier (74 percent) than the M9. It is noteworthy in this context that the S1R is splash and dust-proof, while the M9 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
The power pack in the S1R 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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|2.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|3.||Canon 700D||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon 550D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 500D||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||n||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|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 T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|10.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|11.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|14.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|15.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|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 S1R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the S1R offers a higher resolution of 46.7 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixels advantage translates into a 61 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the S1R has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.30μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the S1R is much more recent (by 9 years and 4 months) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. 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 Panasonic S1R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.8 x 27.9 inches or 106.3 x 70.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33.5 x 22.3 inches or 85 x 56.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.9 x 18.6 inches or 70.8 x 47.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M9 are 26.1 x 17.4 inches or 66.2 x 44.1 cm for good quality, 20.8 x 13.9 inches or 53 x 35.3 cm for very good quality, and 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.1 x 29.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the M9, the S1R has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (187MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Leica M9 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 2500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 consideration, the S1R offers substantially better image quality than the M9 (overall score 31 points higher). The advantage is based on 3.9 bits higher color depth, 2.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|2.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|6.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|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|
|10.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|14.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|15.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The S1R indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the S1R can use is 4K/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S1R has an electronic viewfinder (5760k 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the S1R has a higher magnification than the one of the M9 (0.78x vs 0.68x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M9, the Panasonic S1R, and comparable cameras.
|10.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|17.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The S1R has a touchscreen, while the M9 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the S1R is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic S1R 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.
The M9 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S1R uses SDHC or XQD cards. The S1R features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M9 only has one slot. The S1R supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|10.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the S1R 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.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic S1R (unlike the M9) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The S1R is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the M9 has been discontinued (but 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. 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.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica M9 better than the Panasonic S1R or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 149x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 431g or 42 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- 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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (46.7 vs 18.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 61%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (31 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (3.9 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.68x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- 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.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards on both slots.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 9 years and 4 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S1R is the clear winner of the contest (29 : 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 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.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M9 or the S1R perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|3.||Canon 700D||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|4.||Canon 550D||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|5.||Canon 500D||..||+ +||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2009||799|
|6.||Leica SL2||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|7.||Leica M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|8.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|9.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|10.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|11.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Leica M8||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|14.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|15.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|16.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, 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.
Specifications: Leica M9 vs Panasonic S1R
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||Panasonic S1R|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Leica L mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||February 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 7,999||USD 3,699|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M9||Panasonic S1R|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 Megapixels||46.7 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5212 x 3472 pixels||8368 x 5584 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.91 μm||4.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.09 MP/cm2||5.41 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 2,500 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||69||100|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||26.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||14.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||884||3525|
|Screen Specs||Leica M9||Panasonic S1R|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||2100k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M9||Panasonic S1R|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|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 or XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M9||Panasonic S1R|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M9||Panasonic S1R|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
149 x 110 x 97 mm
(5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
|Camera Weight||585 g (20.6 oz)||1016 g (35.8 oz)|
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