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Leica TL2 versus Leica M9

The Leica TL2 and the Leica M9 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2017 and September 2009. The TL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the M9 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL2) and a full frame (M9) sensor. The TL2 has a resolution of 24.1 megapixel, whereas the M9 provides 18.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica TL2 vs Leica M9

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica TL2 and the Leica M9 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the TL2 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica TL2 vs Leica M9
Compare TL2 versus M9 top
Compare TL2 and M9 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M9 is notably larger (20 percent) than the Leica TL2. Moreover, the M9 is substantially heavier (47 percent) than the TL2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL2 nor the M9 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 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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica TL2» 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica M9« 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i
Canon T2i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.7 oz 440 n Feb 2010 699- i
Canon T1i« » 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799- i
Fujifilm X100F« » 5.0 in 3.0 in 2.0 in 16.5 oz 390 n Jan 2017 1,299 i i
Fujifilm X-E3« » 4.8 in 2.9 in 1.7 in 11.9 oz 350 n Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« » 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.5 oz 350 n Jan 2017 899 i i
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica CL« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica X1« » 4.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.8 oz 260 n Sep 2009 1,995- i
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The TL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 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: Leica TL2 vs Leica M9

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 tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica TL2 features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M9 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the M9 is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica TL2 and Leica M9 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Leica TL2 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 18.1 MP of the Leica M9. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 6.91μm for the M9). However, it should be noted that the TL2 is much more recent (by 7 years and 10 months) 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

TL2 versus M9 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica TL2» APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica M9« Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Canon T2i« » APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
Canon T1i« » APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
Fujifilm X100F« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Fujifilm X-E3« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Fujifilm X-T20« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386
Leica CL« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Leica X1« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2856-----
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The TL2 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M9 does not. The highest resolution format that the TL2 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica TL2 vs Leica M9

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 TL2 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 TL2, the Leica M9, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica TL2»- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Leica M9«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n
Canon T2i« »optical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 3.7 Y n
Canon T1i« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.4 Y n
Fujifilm X100F« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 8.0 Y n
Fujifilm X-E3« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 4000 8.0 n n
Fujifilm X-T20« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y n
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n
Leica CL« »2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica X1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y n
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n

The TL2 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. 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.

Review summary: Leica TL2 vs Leica M9

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica TL2 or the Leica M9 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Leica TL2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24.1 vs 18.1MP) with a 15% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 186g or 32 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 7 years and 10 months of technical progress since the M9 launch.


Reasons to prefer the Leica M9:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the TL2 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 2 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.

TL2 10:02 M9

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the TL2 or the M9 handle or perform in practice. 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 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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica TL2»--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica M9«--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i
Canon T2i« »HiRec77/1004/55/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699- i
Canon T1i« »HiRec74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799- i
Fujifilm X100F« »Rec83/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,299 i i
Fujifilm X-E3« »Rec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2017 899 i i
Fujifilm X-T20« »HiRec82/1005/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 899 i i
Leica C-LUX« »----- Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i
Leica CL« »----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica X1« »-Rec--4/5 Sep 2009 1,995- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.

 

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 use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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