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Leica TL vs YI M1

The Leica TL and the YI M1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2016 and September 2016. Both the TL and the M1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (TL) and a Four Thirds (M1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 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 TL
versus
YI M1
Leica TL   YI M1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica T mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 20.2 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-25,600
Viewfinder optional No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.7 LCD, 1230k dots 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed touchscreen
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge450 shots per battery charge
134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g 114 x 64 x 34 mm, 281 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL 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 physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the YI M1 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 TL can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, titanium), while the M1 is available in two color-versions (black, silver).

Size Leica TL vs YI M1
Compare TL versus M1 top
Comparison TL 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 notably smaller (21 percent) than the Leica TL. Moreover, the M1 is markedly lighter (27 percent) than the TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL 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. 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 battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, 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, you can 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
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
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 SX420 104 mm 69 mm 85 mm 325 g 195 n Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX710 113 mm 66 mm 35 mm 269 g 230 n Jan 2015 349i
6.
 
Fujifilm X70 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 n Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Jan 2016 699i
9.
 
Fujifilm X-A2 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 350 g 410 n Jan 2015 399i
10.
 
Fujifilm X-T10 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 381 g 350 n May 2015 799i
11.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 140 mm 82 mm 43 mm 450 g 300 n Jan 2012 1,699i
12.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
13.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
14.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
15.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Nikon 1 J5 98 mm 60 mm 32 mm 231 g 250 n Apr 2015 399i
17.
 
Panasonic G7 125 mm 86 mm 77 mm 410 g 350 n May 2015 649i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or 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 M1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 79 percent) than the TL, 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.

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. 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 TL features an APS-C sensor and the YI M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the M1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the TL has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the M1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica TL and YI M1 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the M1 offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the TL. 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 4.80μm for the TL). It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the TL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the YI M1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica TL are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica TL has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the YI M1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).

TL versus M1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
2.
 
YI M1 Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
3.
 
Canon SX730 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
4.
 
Canon SX420 1/2.3 19.9 5152 3864720/25p........
5.
 
Canon SX710 1/2.3 20.2 5184 38881080/60p........
6.
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
8.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
9.
 
Fujifilm X-A2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
10.
 
Fujifilm X-T10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
11.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p........
12.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
13.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
14.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
15.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
16.
 
Nikon 1 J5 1-inch 20.7 5568 37124K/15p21.112.047965
17.
 
Panasonic G7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the M1 provides a better video resolution than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The TL and the M1 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the TL can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica TL, 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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
YI M1none n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
3.
 
Canon SX730none n3.0 / 922 tilting n 1/3200s 5.9 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX420none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 0.5 Y Y
5.
 
Canon SX710none n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/3200s 6.0 Y Y
6.
 
Fujifilm X70optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
8.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S2360 n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
9.
 
Fujifilm X-A2none n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
10.
 
Fujifilm X-T102360 n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
11.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro11440 n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 n n
12.
 
Leica CL2360 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
13.
 
Leica TL2optional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
14.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
15.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
16.
 
Nikon 1 J5none n3.0 / 1037 tilting Y 1/4000s 60.0 Y n
17.
 
Panasonic G72360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The TL has one, while the M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the TL is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

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 TL 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 TL 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 TLYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
2.
 
YI M1Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
3.
 
Canon SX730-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon SX420-mono / mono---2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon SX710-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Fujifilm X70Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Fujifilm X-E2SYstereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
9.
 
Fujifilm X-A2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
10.
 
Fujifilm X-T10Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
11.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica CLYstereo / mono----Y--
13.
 
Leica TL2Ystereo / mono--micro3.0Y--
14.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
15.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Nikon 1 J5-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
17.
 
Panasonic G7Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--

The M1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of YI. In contrast, the TL has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the TL was succeeded by the Leica TL2. 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 there a clear favorite between the Leica TL and the YI M1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Leica TL:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the YI M1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (114x64mm vs 134x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 103g or 27 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (79 percent cheaper at launch).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL comes out slightly ahead of the M1 (10 : 9 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.

TL 10:09 M1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL and the YI M1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

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 shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the TL or the M1. 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 (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 TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
2.
 
YI M1......69/100.... Sep 2016 349 i
3.
 
Canon SX730..+....4/54/5 Apr 2017 399i
4.
 
Canon SX420..........3/5 Jan 2016 299i
5.
 
Canon SX710..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2015 349i
6.
 
Fujifilm X704.5/5....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3......74/1004.5/54/5 Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S4.5/5....77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 699i
9.
 
Fujifilm X-A24/5......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 399i
10.
 
Fujifilm X-T104.5/5+ +..80/1005/55/5 May 2015 799i
11.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro15/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699i
12.
 
Leica CL....4.2/5....4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
13.
 
Leica TL23.5/5..3/5..4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
14.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
15.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
16.
 
Nikon 1 J5........4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2015 399i
17.
 
Panasonic G74/5+ +..80/1005/54.5/5 May 2015 649i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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.

Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers
YI M1:
Check Amazon price

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.

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    Specifications: Leica TL 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 TL YI M1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica T mount lenses Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date November 2016 September 2016
    Launch Price USD 1,695 USD 349
    Sensor Specs Leica TL YI M1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 20.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 5184 x 3888 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 3.34 μm
    Pixel Density 4.34 MP/cm2 8.96 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    Screen Specs Leica TL YI M1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica TL YI M1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Built-in 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 TL YI M1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Leica TL YI M1
    Battery Type BP-DC13 BXM-10
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge450 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    114 x 64 x 34 mm
    (4.5 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 384 g (13.5 oz) 281 g (9.9 oz)

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