Leica M9 vs Sony A7S II
The Leica M9 and the Sony Alpha 7S II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and September 2015. The M9 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7S II is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 12 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Leica M mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|18.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor||12 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 80-2500||ISO 100-102400 (50-409600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (2400k dots)|
|2.5" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|2 shutter flaps per second||5 shutter flaps per second|
|No shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g||127 x 96 x 60 mm, 627 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the Sony Alpha 7S II? 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 Sony A7S II are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M9 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A7S II 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 Sony A7S II is notably larger (10 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the A7S II is markedly heavier (7 percent) than the M9. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7S II 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M9) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S II).
The power pack in the A7S II 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. 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.
|Leica M9»||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Sony A7S II«||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999||Sony A7S II|
|Canon T5i« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||20.5 oz||440||n||Mar 2013||649||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.7 oz||440||n||Feb 2010||699||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||2.4 in||18.3 oz||400||n||Mar 2009||799||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica T« »||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.5 oz||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113« »||5.2 in||2.9 in||3.1 in||17.1 oz||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295||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||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Sony A7R IV« »||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||23.5 oz||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499||Sony A7R IV|
|Sony A7R III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7S« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||17.2 oz||380||Y||Apr 2014||2,499||Sony A7S|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 A7S II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 63 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the A7S II is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 18.1MP, the M9 offers a higher resolution than the A7S II (12MP), but the M9 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.91μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S II). Moreover, the A7S II is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the M9, and its sensor will 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 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 inch or 66.2 x 44.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.8 x 13.9 inch or 53 x 35.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inch or 44.1 x 29.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S II are 21.2 x 14.2 inch or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inch or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inch or 35.9 x 24 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 Sony Alpha 7S II are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-409600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the A7S II offers substantially better image quality than the M9 (overall score 16 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 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.
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85||Sony A7S II|
|Canon T5i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||21.7||11.2||681||61||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica T||APS-C||16.2||4944||3278||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||1082||75||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Sony A7R IV|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7S||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||1080/60p||23.9||13.2||3702||87||Sony A7S|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The A7S II indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7S II can use is 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7S II has an electronic viewfinder (2400k 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 A7S II 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M9 and Sony A7S II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7S II|
|Canon T5i||optical||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||optical||n||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.7||Y||n||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.4||Y||n||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica T||optional||n||3.7||1300||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R IV|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7S||2400||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Sony A7S|
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 A7S II 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 M9 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A7S II uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A7S II 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 Sony Alpha 7S II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S II|
|Canon T5i||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T5i|
|Canon T2i||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T2i|
|Canon T1i||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T1i|
|Leica M10-P||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10-P|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica T||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||Y||-||-||Leica T|
|Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Typ 113|
|Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica X Vario|
|Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 240|
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R IV|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Sony A7R III|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7R II|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7 II|
|Sony A7S||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7S|
It is notable that the A7S II 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 offer wifi capability.
The A7S II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. 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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica M9 and the Sony A7S II? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica M9:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (18.1 vs 12MP) with a 23% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- 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 Sony Alpha 7S II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (16 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p 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).
- 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 (1229k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent 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.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the M9 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7S II is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 5 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. 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M9 and the A7S II 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 700D vs Sony A7S II
- Canon G9 X vs Sony A7S II
- Canon XTi vs Sony A7S II
- Fujifilm X-T10 vs Sony A7S II
- Leica M9 vs Nikon B500
- Leica M9 vs Panasonic GF7
- Nikon B700 vs Sony A7S II
- Nikon D60 vs Sony A7S II
- Olympus E-3 vs Sony A7S II
- Olympus E-PL1 vs Sony A7S II
- Panasonic GF7 vs Sony A7S II
- Panasonic LX15 vs Sony A7S II
Specifications: Leica M9 vs Sony A7S II
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||Sony A7S II|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2009||September 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 7999||USD 2999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||18.1 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5212 x 3472 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.91 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.09 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80-2500 ISO||100-102400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50-409600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||69||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.5||23.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||13.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||884||2993|
|Screen Specs||Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2400k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|Autofocus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000/s||1/8000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Image Stabilization||No shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M9||Sony A7S II|
|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)
127 x 96 x 60 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.4 in)
|Camera Weight||585 g (20.6 oz)||627 g (22.1 oz)|
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