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Nikon D850 versus Leica M10

The Nikon D850 and the Leica M10 (Typ 3656) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2017 and January 2017. The D850 is a DSLR, while the M10 Typ 3656 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 45.4 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 23.8 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D850 and the Leica M10. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 D850 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Nikon D850 vs Leica M10 front
D850 versus M10 Typ 3656 top view
D850 and M10 Typ 3656 rear side
Body view (D850 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M10 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Nikon D850. Moreover, the M10 Typ 3656 is markedly lighter (34 percent) than the D850. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D850 is splash and dust resistant, while the M10 Typ 3656 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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D850) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M10 Typ 3656).

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
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D850 (⇒ rgt) 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 YES 2017 3,299 latest check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft) 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 no 2017 6,595 latest check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 YES 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 no 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. YES 2015 5,195discont. check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. YES 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. no 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. no 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 4.1 in 2.9 in 25.4 oz 950 YES 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 YES 2016 6,499 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 YES 2016 1,999 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 YES 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 YES 2013 2,749 latest check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz .. YES 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz .. YES 2012 3,299discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the M10 Typ 3656, 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. 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.

Nikon D850 and Leica M10 sensor measures
Sensor size

With 45.4MP, the D850 offers a higher resolution than the M10 Typ 3656 (23.8MP), but the D850 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 6.00μm for the M10 Typ 3656). However, the D850 is a somewhat more recent model (by 6 months) than the M10 Typ 3656, and its sensor might 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

D850 versus M10 Typ 3656 MP
Sensor resolution

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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Nikon D850 (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 45.4 8256 5504 4K/30p 26.4 14.8 2660 100
Leica M10 (⇒ lft) Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992 no .. .. .. ..
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 30.1 6720 4480 4K/30p 24.8 13.6 2995 91
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.6 12.4 2308 86
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.7 12.4 2381 87
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 no - - - -
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976 1080/25p 24.0 13.3 1860 84
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472 no 22.5 11.7 884 69
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.4 3936 2630 no 21.1 11.3 663 59
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.8 13.9 1192 86
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.7 5588 3712 4K/30p 25.1 12.3 2343 88
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 20.7 5568 3712 4K/30p 24.0 14.0 1324 83
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.7 14.8 2853 97
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280 no 24.6 13.1 3279 89
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.3 14.4 2853 95
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.6 14.3 2979 96

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D850 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M10 Typ 3656 does not. The highest resolution format that the D850 can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D850 and the M10 Typ 3656 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Nikon D850 and Leica M10 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. 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
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Nikon D850 (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 9.0 no no
Leica M10 (⇒ lft) optical no 3.0 1037 fixed no 4000 5.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 7.0 no no
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 7.0 no no
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 3.0 920 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 4000 2.0 no no
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 2.0 no no
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 922 tilting YES 8000 8.0 12 no
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 fixed YES 8000 14.0 no no
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no no
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1229 fixed no 4000 5.0 12 no
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 4000 5.5 no no
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no

Both the D850 and the M10 Typ 3656 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The M10 Typ 3656 replaced the earlier Leica M (Typ 240), while the D850 followed on from the Nikon D810.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D850 better than the Leica M10 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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Advantages of the Nikon D850:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (45.4 vs 23.8MP) with a 38% higher linear resolution.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1037k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster shutter: Has a higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1840 versus 210) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 6 months after the M10 Typ 3656).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica M10 (Typ 3656):

  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 146x124mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 345g or 34 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in July 2017).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 4 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.

D850 13:04 M10 Typ 3656

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D850 or the M10 Typ 3656 handle or 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. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Nikon D850 (⇒ rgt) .. 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 .. 5/5 2017 3,299 latest check
Leica M10 (⇒ lft) - - 4/5 - 4.5/5 2017 6,595 latest check
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,499 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. .. .. 4/5 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica M Typ 262 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2015 5,195discont. check
Leica M Typ 240 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - - 2012 6,950discont. check
Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 - 2009 7,999discont. check
Leica M8 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2006 5,499discont. check
Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 86/100 Silver 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2017 1,299 latest check
Nikon D5 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 6,499 latest check
Nikon D500 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 91/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2016 1,999 latest check
Nikon D810 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2014 3,299discont. check
Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt) - 81/100 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,749 latest check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) - 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2012 3,299discont. check

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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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