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Leica M9 vs YI M1

The Leica M9 and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and September 2016. The M9 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless, while the M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (M9) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 18.1 megapixels, whereas the YI provides 20.2 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
YI M1
Leica M9   YI M1
Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica M mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
18.1 MP – Full Frame sensor 20.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 80-2,500 ISO 100-25,600
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.5" LCD – 230k dots 2.5" LCD – 1040k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
2 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 585 g 114 x 64 x 34 mm, 281 g
Leica M9:
Check Ebay offers
YI M1:
Check Amazon price

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M9 and the YI M1? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M9 and the YI M1. 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.

Both cameras are available in two different colors (black, silver).

Size Leica M9 vs YI M1
Compare M9 versus M1 top
Comparison M9 or M1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the YI M1 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Leica M9. Moreover, the M1 is substantially lighter (52 percent) than the M9. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M9 nor the M1 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 (M1).

The power pack in the M1 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
2.
 
YI M1 114 mm 64 mm 34 mm 281 g 450 n Sep 2016 349 i
3.
 
Canon SX730 110 mm 64 mm 40 mm 300 g 250 n Apr 2017 399i
4.
 
Canon T5i 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
5.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
6.
 
Canon T1i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 520 g 400 n Mar 2009 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 n Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Leica M10-R 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jul 2020 8,295 i
9.
 
Leica M10-P 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Aug 2018 7,995 i
10.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
12.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
15.
 
Nikon 1 J5 98 mm 60 mm 32 mm 231 g 250 n Apr 2015 399i
16.
 
Panasonic GX850 107 mm 65 mm 33 mm 269 g 210 n Jan 2017 549 i
17.
 
Panasonic GF7 107 mm 65 mm 33 mm 266 g 230 n Jan 2015 499i
Note: 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 M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 96 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 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 YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 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 M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica M9 and YI M1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the M1 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 18.1 MP of the M9. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the M1 is much more recent (by 7 years) than the M9, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. 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 YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

M9 versus M1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
2.
 
YI M1 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.012.6103073
3.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p20.511.992450
4.
 
Canon T5i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
5.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
6.
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.813.1166481
8.
 
Leica M10-R Full Frame 40.9 7864 5200none25.314.3292495
9.
 
Leica M10-P Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none25.114.1273993
10.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
11.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
12.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
14.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
15.
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
16.
 
Panasonic GX850 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p23.213.358673
17.
 
Panasonic GF7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.712.387470
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The M1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the M1 can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from 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 M1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M9, the YI M1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0/s n n
2.
 
YI M1none n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
3.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon T5ioptical n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Canon T2ioptical n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7/s Y n
6.
 
Canon T1ioptical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4/s Y n
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica M10-Roptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.5/s n n
9.
 
Leica M10-Poptical n3.0 / 1037 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
10.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s n n
11.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
12.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
14.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0/s n n
15.
 
Nikon 1 J5none n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic GX850none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/500s 10.0/s Y n
17.
 
Panasonic GF7none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/500s 5.8/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The M1 has a touchscreen, while the M9 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The YI M1 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 M1 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 YI M1 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
2.
 
YI M1Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
3.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon T5iYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon T2iYstereo / -Y-mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon T1iYmono / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Leica M10-RY- / -----Y--
9.
 
Leica M10-PY- / -----Y--
10.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
11.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereo / mono---2.0---
14.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Panasonic GX850-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
17.
 
Panasonic GF7-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-

It is notable that the M1 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.

The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. 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 YI websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica M9 better than the YI M1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:

  • 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).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the YI M1:

  • 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 (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 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 (114x64mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 304g or 52 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • 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.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (96 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years of technical progress since the M9 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M1 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 4 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.

M9 04:14 M1

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 M1 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.

Expert reviews

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], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
2.
 
YI M1......69/100.... Sep 2016 349 i
3.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
4.
 
Canon T5i......76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
5.
 
Canon T2i..+ +..77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
6.
 
Canon T1i..+ +..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3......74/1004.5/54/5 Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Leica M10-R4.5/5..4/5....4/5 Jul 2020 8,295 i
9.
 
Leica M10-P....3/5....4/5 Aug 2018 7,995 i
10.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
12.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
13.
 
Leica M Typ 2404/5......4/5.. Sep 2012 6,950i
14.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
15.
 
Nikon 1 J5........4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
16.
 
Panasonic GX850..+..76/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 549 i
17.
 
Panasonic GF74/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 499i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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
YI M1:
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 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 YI M1

    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 YI M1
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 September 2016
    Launch Price USD 7,999 USD 349
    Sensor Specs Leica M9 YI M1
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 18.1 Megapixels 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5212 x 3472 pixels 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.91 μm 3.34 μm
    Pixel Density 2.09 MP/cm2 8.96 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 2,500 ISO 100 - 25,600 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 YI M1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.68x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica M9 YI M1
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    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 no
    Connectivity Specs Leica M9 YI M1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Leica M9 YI M1
    Battery Type BLI-312 BXM-10
    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)
    114 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 585 g (20.6 oz) 281 g (9.9 oz)
    Leica M9:
    Check Ebay offers
    YI M1:
    Check Amazon price

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