Leica S2 versus Leica M9
The Leica S2 and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and September 2009. The S2 is a DSLR, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a medium format (S2) and a full frame sensor. The S2 has a resolution of 37.5 megapixel, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 MP.
The physical size and weight of the Leica S2 and the Leica M9 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the S2 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M9 is considerably smaller (42 percent) than the Leica S2. Moreover, the M9 is substantially lighter (59 percent) than the S2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S2 is splash and dust resistant, 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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Leica S2 (⇒ rgt)||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||YES||2008||22,995||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||no||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||YES||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||520 g||400||no||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||YES||2007||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||156.6 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||YES||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||YES||2014||24,490||latest||check|
|Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||YES||2014||16,900||discont.||check|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||no||2014||2,295||latest||check|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||YES||2012||21,950||discont.||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||YES||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||no||2006||5,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||YES||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||YES||2008||7,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||YES||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt)||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||YES||2010||9,995||discont.||check|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The M9 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the S2, 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. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S2 features a medium format sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 36 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the M9 (18.1MP), but the S2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). Moreover, the M9 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the S2, 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
For most 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Leica S2 (⇒ rgt)||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||no||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.1||11.5||784||66|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||1080/20p||21.7||11.5||663||63|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||no||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||no||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||no||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||no||21.1||11.3||663||59|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||no||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||no||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt)||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||no||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S2 and the M9 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S2 and Leica M9 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|Leica S2 (⇒ rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||1.5||no||no|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||2.0||no||no|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||1040||fixed||no||4000||3.7||13||no|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||920||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.4||13||no|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||230||fixed||no||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||4000||3.5||no||no|
|Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||4000||1.5||no||no|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||4000||1.5||no||no|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||3.0||no||no|
|Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||8000||2.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||922||fixed||no||8000||11.0||no||no|
|Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.0||921||fixed||no||4000||1.1||no||no|
Both the S2 and the M9 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the M9 was followed by the Leica M Typ 240.
So how do things add up? Is the Leica S2 better than the Leica M9 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 18.1MP) with a 44% higher linear resolution.
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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).
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).
Arguments in favor of the Leica M9:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 825g or 59 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (11 months) more recently.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 comes out slightly ahead of the M9 (6 : 5 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the S2 or the M9. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Leica S2 (⇒ rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2008||22,995||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft)||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||-||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T2i (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||77/100 Gold||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||-||5/5||-||2009||4,999||discont.||check|
|Canon T1i (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||74/100 HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2009||799||discont.||check|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||4.5/5||-||-||2007||7,999||discont.||check|
|Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||reviewed||-||2007||4,499||discont.||check|
|Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2014||24,490||latest||check|
|Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2014||16,900||discont.||check|
|Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||3.5/5||-||4/5||2014||2,295||latest||check|
|Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2012||21,950||discont.||check|
|Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||-||2012||6,950||discont.||check|
|Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||-||-||-||2006||5,499||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3S (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||89/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2009||5,199||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||2008||7,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||HiRec||5/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2007||4,999||discont.||check|
|Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||4.5/5||-||2010||9,995||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.
In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.
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