Leica M9 18.0 Megapixel Stylish Reviews Roundup

On September 09 2009, Leica announced the long-anticipated full-frame M9, the first digital M-series rangefinder to offer a full-frame sensor. The new M9 comes with a 18 Megapixels Kodak CCD, developed specially for Leica, which offers an equivalent ISO sensitivity of 160-2500 and optimised to exploit the particular qualities of the Leica M lens system. According to Leica, this M9 is the world's smallest full-frame system camera available in the market today. When compared to a DSLR, the exit pupil of a typical M-series lens is very close to the imaging surface, which can lead to unacceptable vignetting, especially with wideangle lenses. The M9 sensor solves the problem by employing further advanced and meticulously-designed micro lenses with a low refractive index. The micro lenses at the sensor edges are laterally displaced towards the image centre to match the characteristics of M lenses precisely. This optimised micro lens design captures and concentrates even the most oblique rays on the sensor, and reliably prevents image brightness fall-off at the edges and corners of the image. As a result, all existing Leica M lenses maintain their full performance when used for digital photography. The M9 comes with a 2.5 inches LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, and TTL (through the lens) metering from a grey and white pattern printed onto the shutter blades. Like the M8 and M8.2, the M9's CCD sensor does not feature a built-in anti-aliasing filter, but according to Leica, the new camera does not need to be used with an accessory screw-in filter. The M9 is currently selling at around $6,995.

Leica M9 Sample Photos on Flickr



Leica M9 Camera Reviews Roundup


Imaging Resource - Feb 21 2012
"Shooting with the Leica M9-P was a great experience. It was not always easy to get a focused shot, nor to set exposure properly the first time. Modern autofocus and metering technology has spoiled us somewhat. But it's a great reminder of how film photography used to be, one you can also simulate by turning off your digital SLR's autofocus system and switch..." More »
Not Rated
CNET UK - Oct 18 2011
"Everything about the Leica M9 and M9-P screams quality, from the camera build to the leather cases for the lenses and, most importantly, the images they produce. The native file format is Adobe DMG, which come out at a whopping 18MB, full of stunning detail. Colours are consistently brighter and more vivid than just about any camera we have used -- eve..." More »
90out of 100
TechRadar - Aug 25 2011
"Leica describes the M9 as an investment for life, and in its build quality it's easy to understand its confidence. For existing M-mount users it's the next logical progression from either analogue M-series bodies or the M8/M8.2, and in terms of its resolution it's unrivalled for such a small camera. Combined with high-quality optics - generally a given with..." More »
60out of 100
MichaelLetchford - Dec 29 2010
"I think, without a shadow of doubt, that this lens is a genuine winner. Although my work is almost exclusively monochrome these days, this lens has a habit of reminding you that colour has it's own intrinsic photographic value and it can seduce the eye with its own subtle rendering of scenes where colour is a major pictorial element of the overall image. It..." More »
Not Rated
CanonRumors - Sep 27 2010
"The colours are natural and beautiful. The dynamic range seems to be fantastic, even in tough scenes, there was lots of detail in the shadows and highlights. Most of you know I don't care much about ISO performance, I'll take the grain. This camera does not produce clean ISO 1600 shots, they're good enough for me though. You sacrifice ISO performance for sh..." More »
Not Rated
CrunchGear - Aug 14 2010
"If you've been pointing and shooting for a few years you need a week to learn or remember the classic manual controls. You not only focus manually but you adjust the f-stop the way you were meant to, by turning a ring. If you look into the lens while doing so you can see the shutter actually opening and closing, just like the old days! You can easily experi..." More »
Not Rated
RegHardware - Jun 21 2010
"The M9 has a sensitivity range between 160 and 2500 ISO, plus a Pull80, which works by manipulating a 160 ISO exposure to obtain the look of an 80 ISO shot. I was pleasantly impressed with the M9 noise performance. Despite not having ultra high-speed options my test showed very good results across its ISO range. Noise only starts appearing at 1600 ISO..." More »
90out of 100
ePhotoZine - Jan 22 2010
"It's fair to say that in both JPEG and Raw, the Leica M9 records some great colour. Whether in a studio or out and about, the processor works well to give a balanced amount of bold colours. Primary red strikes out of the frame whenever it's present while primary blue is rich. On our test chart, the skin tone tile looks overly pink but taking portraits doesn..." More »
90out of 100
Photocrati - Dec 22 2009
"The Leica M9 is clearly a product of German design and engineering, which has always been a standard other camera manufacturers have aspired to in terms of reliability, durability, and solid construction. It's a rigorous standard that few try to achieve and fewer still approach with any conviction. When one learns that the M9 is constructed of a one-pi..." More »
Not Rated

DSLR Photography Latest Posts





Cameras In The Article
 
64 user reviews


User Review of the camera - Leica M9

  • 2014-08-07 07:00
    Transitioning to the M9, S. Flask
    I'm obviously a bit late to the party here, but I needed to wait for the price of an M9 to begin to return to earth before making my purchase. I'll talk about this camera from the perspective of someone coming from an M6, and hope to address some questions or concerns others may have when deciding to make the jump from a film to a digital Leica M.
    The camera is very close in weight to the M6, and the build quality feels similar as well. The main thing you will notice right away is that the M9 is thicker than the M6. It is noticeable, and when handling the two cameras side by side I prefer the smaller M6, however in practice I have found that I don't really care about the added thickness when I am out shooting.
    The M9 has a larger shutter speed dial similar to the TTL version of the M6. I will admit that this does handle better than the smaller dial on the classic M6. The frame line preview works as before, and the finder is mostly similar to the M6, with some slight changes to the frame lines and a slightly different light meter with a dot between the opposing arrows that indicate over or under exposure. None of these changes are problematic, as far as I am concerned.
    The only other significant difference you will notice is the way the shutter button responds to pressure. The M6 has a two stage button; half press to meter, full press to fire. The M9 is a three stage, and can be configured to operate in several different ways. The standard setup is you activate the meter with the first stage, lock the exposure with the second stage, full press to fire. This can be changed in several ways, primarily by engaging the "soft" release function which trips the shutter at the second stage. You may find you prefer this setup if you do not use the aperture priority function, and therefore have no need to lock the exposure. In addition to the soft function, there is a "discrete" mode in which the shutter does not re-cock until you remove your finger from the shutter button. I have found that I like this mode very much, as it allows you to take the photo with minimal noise and then lower the camera before re-cocking the shutter, which makes a brief whirring sound.
    A note about that whirring sound: In my opinion, it is the only mechanical function of this camera that could use improvement. Quite frankly the sound is annoying, and doesn't sound like a Leica should sound. Perhaps that's a ridiculous thing to say, but I am pretty sure if you are coming from a film M you will feel the same way. The smooth film advance has been replaced by a whirring noise. It's not the end of the world. I'll get over it.
    As far as the electronics are concerned, they're spartan and good enough. The LCD is lousy by today's standards. ISO can be changed easily by pressing the ISO button and turning the command wheel. You can check your battery life easily, and battery life is relatively good. The menu system is simple to negotiate; there aren't a lot of extraneous setting to fiddle around with, thank goodness. The blown highlight/shadow indicators in the image review are accurate and helpful. Frankly, you will likely set this camera up the way you want it, and then ignore the menu system most of the time. Most electronic interaction is then limited to changing ISO on occasion (if you don't use auto-ISO) and checking your battery. DNG files are fairly slow to write to the card, taking maybe 5 seconds per image. You may run into the buffer if you shoot very quickly; I rarely have this problem. The electronics thankfully do not really interfere with the overall shooting experience.
    Image quality is a double edged sword. This sensor likes to have some light, but not too much. Highlight recovery isn't as good as a modern day DSLR. Watch out you don't blow your highlights too badly... when they're gone, they're gone. There can also be some strange artifacting around badly blown areas. (The center-weighted meter is very sensitive to highlights, I suspect for this reason.) High ISO performance isn't wonderful either. Frankly, I've mostly kept the M9 at ISO 800 or below, occasionally going to 1600. This is good enough for me, but I admit I wouldn't complain if it were better! Those used to shooting at 6400 on a current DSLR may find the performance lacking in this regard. When used within its limitations, however, the M9 files are absolutely wonderful. They record an amazing amount of detail; I have more or less refrained from adding any sharpening to the DNG files in post-processing. They convert to black and white very well, which was of primary importance for me, making very nicely toned, rich black and white conversions. I almost never work in color so I will refrain from commenting on the quality of the colors out of the M9.
    If you are considering making the switch from an M6 or other film M, I think you will be happy with the M9. You'll likely wish for an improvement in the sound of the shutter cocking, but otherwise you can pickup the M9 and basically shoot with it as you would a film M. If you have not used a Leica and are wondering if a rangefinder is for you, I would strongly recommend picking up a used film M with a 35 or 50mm lens and living with it for six months or so to determine whether or not a rangefinder system is right for you.
  • 2014-07-14 07:00
    If you spent $6k on this, you definitely have more money than brains., Silesian
    Easily summed up. This $6,000 Leica M9 is inferior in every respect to any other camera system costing $6,000. There's nothing more to say.
  • 2014-07-11 07:00
    Five Stars, sigor
    Verified Purchase(
    good stuf
  • 2013-08-13 07:00
    Best mirrorless full frame camera made, Eric Y.
    Verified Purchase(
    Camera has Incredible images with small footprint and the best lenses in the world. Just beautiful to look at and it does the job beyond expectation.
  • 2013-08-13 07:00
    Best mirrorless full frame camera made, Eric Y.
    Camera has Incredible images with small footprint and the best lenses in the world. Just beautiful to look at and it does the job beyond expectation.
  • 2013-07-09 07:00
    Beware of dust when changing lens, Kenneth Wang "WangMan"
    Since I have owned Leica M cameras for the last 40 years (M4 & M6), it was a no brainer for me to get the M9P, since all my Leica M lenses work with this body. I really like the digital pictures the Kodak CCD sensor can produce, and along with the Lightroom software, I can play with the RAW output to suit my pleasure. Now, the only issue I have with my camera is dust on the sensor, when you change lenses, somehow the sensor attracts dust, and it will show up with your pictures when you shoot at higher apertures (F5.6 - F16), you can avoid this problem if you do not change lenses or change lenses in a dust free environment, another method is to shoot with each of your lens wide open.
    Leica USA in Allendale, NJ will clean your sensor if your camera is under warranty, and their customer service is excellent.
  • 2013-07-09 07:00
    Beware of dust when changing lens, Kenneth Wang "WangMan"
    Since I have owned Leica M cameras for the last 40 years (M4 & M6), it was a no brainer for me to get the M9P, since all my Leica M lenses work with this body. I really like the digital pictures the Kodak CCD sensor can produce, and along with the Lightroom software, I can play with the RAW output to suit my pleasure. Now, the only issue I have with my camera is dust on the sensor, when you change lenses, somehow the sensor attracts dust, and it will show up with your pictures when you shoot at higher apertures (F5.6 - F16), you can avoid this problem if you do not change lenses or change lenses in a dust free environment, another method is to shoot with each of your lens wide open.
    Leica USA in Allendale, NJ will clean your sensor if your camera is under warranty, and their customer service is excellent.
  • 2013-07-02 07:00
    Beautiful Camera, Ross
    This camera is simply stunning. I have shot with it before and it's one of the finest camera's you can use. It's quite expensive, but worth every penny, especially when you get the perfect shot.
  • 2013-07-02 07:00
    Beautiful Camera, Ross
    This camera is simply stunning. I have shot with it before and it's one of the finest camera's you can use. It's quite expensive, but worth every penny, especially when you get the perfect shot.
  • 2013-06-01 07:00
    This camera is not for everybody, Mark Twain "wwwumax"
    Verified Purchase(
    Finally got this camera and corresponding lens. Because it is a M series camera body, no auto-focus lens exist. That knocks off one star from my review.
    I have to admit the photo has quite different in color saturation and sharpness compares to much cheaper DSLR such as a Canon L lens. However it totally depends on how people like to use this camera: Not everyone has the patience to do manual focus.
    The control is extreme light as a SLR, too light as it is not fun to play with.
    Does it worth the money to buy a Leica ... let's say the design and user friend should be MUCH better for this price tag.
  • 2013-06-01 07:00
    This camera is not for everybody, Mark Twain "wwwumax"
    Finally got this camera and corresponding lens. Because it is a M series camera body, no auto-focus lens exist. That knocks off one star from my review.
    I have to admit the photo has quite different in color saturation and sharpness compares to much cheaper DSLR such as a Canon L lens. However it totally depends on how people like to use this camera: Not everyone has the patience to do manual focus.
    The control is extreme light as a SLR, too light as it is not fun to play with.
    Does it worth the money to buy a Leica ... let's say the design and user friend should be MUCH better for this price tag.
  • 2013-05-25 07:00
    It was worth the wait, kkrome25 "kkrome25"
    Verified Purchase(
    I bought the M8 several years ago, and it met my expectations as far as image quality. I just could not work with the crop factor. The M9 with its full-frame sensor was worth the wait. It's very critical that I know my 50mm lens will cover just what a fifty will, and so on with other focal lengths. Rangefinder photographers rely on memory as to the coverage of a particular lens, and the sensor must be 24x36mm, just like 35mm film. The M9 has a 24x36mm sensor, and it's made by Kodak, in the U.S.A. When I sold my M8, I kept one of the batteries, hoping that one day, the next digital M will use the same power source, and I was right! My M8 battery is the exact same thing as an M9 battery. My sincerest compliments to the Leica and Kodak crew for a job well done.
  • 2013-05-25 07:00
    It was worth the wait, kkrome25 "kkrome25"
    I bought the M8 several years ago, and it met my expectations as far as image quality. I just could not work with the crop factor. The M9 with its full-frame sensor was worth the wait. It's very critical that I know my 50mm lens will cover just what a fifty will, and so on with other focal lengths. Rangefinder photographers rely on memory as to the coverage of a particular lens, and the sensor must be 24x36mm, just like 35mm film. The M9 has a 24x36mm sensor, and it's made by Kodak, in the U.S.A. When I sold my M8, I kept one of the batteries, hoping that one day, the next digital M will use the same power source, and I was right! My M8 battery is the exact same thing as an M9 battery. My sincerest compliments to the Leica and Kodak crew for a job well done.
  • 2013-01-30 08:00
    Smooth, Charles W. Holley "CHUCK"
    Verified Purchase(
    What a camera should be,alows the photographer to be in charge,being able to use some of the great lenses of years ago
  • 2013-01-30 08:00
    Smooth, Charles W. Holley "CHUCK"
    What a camera should be,alows the photographer to be in charge,being able to use some of the great lenses of years ago
  • 2012-10-26 07:00
    My M9 Experience. (Coming from a DSLR background), James Maier "carbon111"
    Okay, I admit it, I was driven to check out the Leica digital rangefinder cameras because of the great time I've been having and the excellent photos I've been taking with the little Leica X2 point-and-shoot! For a short while I had an M8 but quickly sold it to help fund the M9.
    I guess the rangefinder paradigm is not for everybody but I fell in love with shooting 35mm film on my dad's old Contax many years ago when I was in my twenties! I acquired a Zeiss Ikon last year to get back some of that "vibe" and shoot film again and have really been loving it. I've been a Canon 5DmkII shooter for some time but thought maybe the M9 might just be the perfect camera for me - at this point I would say my hunch has proved out!
    The body is solid and the build quality is superb. I find it a perfect fit in my hand with just the right amount of heft - it's great to know that highly engineered objects of this kind of precision and quality are still being made! I think I'd be hard pressed to find any plastic on this camera!
    I shot Canon gear for years and finally, after some considerable time hands-on with the M8, but mostly the M9, I've completely liquidated my 5DmkII and a bunch of Canon "L" lenses. With careful packing, the M9, a spare battery and three lenses all fit in a little Domke F-5XA camera bag and it only weighs a few pounds! Compared to the bag I used to lug my 5DmkII and 24-105mm, 70-200mm and 16-35mm lenses around in, this is effortless, plus it's much more discrete to carry.
    It's also so discrete to shoot. The compactness of the M9 has been liberating for me. People just don't react the same way to the M9 that they did to my 5D with the massive 24-105mm hanging off of it - they're more relaxed and comfortable. This thing just doesn't look *that* imposing.
    I'm finding the Leica M lenses to be simply phenomenal! They're extremely sharp, even in the extreme corners (where my Canon glass didn't fare so well). These lenses are sharper and more contrasty than what I've gotten used to, even when shot at wide apertures - and that even applies to the wide-angle lenses! Through some trial and error and lens trading through eBay, I've finally settled on the 21mm Elmarit, 50mm Summicron, 35mm Summilux and 90mm Elmarit as my "kit".
    The CCD sensor in the M9 bucks the CMOS trend and certainly affords the M9 a unique image signature that I'm finding really lovely. Overall, it feels very film-like to me. From my own experience, I've noticed that the M9's files require much less post-processing than my Canons or any of my other cameras.
    Though I agree that a good photographer can take a great picture with just about any camera, a superb one like this certainly makes it a lot easier to get the results and consistency I want. I really love this camera!
  • 2012-10-26 07:00
    My M9 Experience. (Coming from a DSLR background), James Maier "carbon111"
    Okay, I admit it, I was driven to check out the Leica digital rangefinder cameras because of the great time I've been having and the excellent photos I've been taking with the little Leica X2 point-and-shoot! For a short while I had an M8 but quickly sold it to help fund the M9.
    I guess the rangefinder paradigm is not for everybody but I fell in love with shooting 35mm film on my dad's old Contax many years ago when I was in my twenties! I acquired a Zeiss Ikon last year to get back some of that "vibe" and shoot film again and have really been loving it. I've been a Canon 5DmkII shooter for some time but thought maybe the M9 might just be the perfect camera for me - at this point I would say my hunch has proved out!
    The body is solid and the build quality is superb. I find it a perfect fit in my hand with just the right amount of heft - it's great to know that highly engineered objects of this kind of precision and quality are still being made! I think I'd be hard pressed to find any plastic on this camera!
    I shot Canon gear for years and finally, after some considerable time hands-on with the M8, but mostly the M9, I've completely liquidated my 5DmkII and a bunch of Canon "L" lenses. With careful packing, the M9, a spare battery and three lenses all fit in a little Domke F-5XA camera bag and it only weighs a few pounds! Compared to the bag I used to lug my 5DmkII and 24-105mm, 70-200mm and 16-35mm lenses around in, this is effortless, plus it's much more discrete to carry.
    It's also so discrete to shoot. The compactness of the M9 has been liberating for me. People just don't react the same way to the M9 that they did to my 5D with the massive 24-105mm hanging off of it - they're more relaxed and comfortable. This thing just doesn't look *that* imposing.
    I'm finding the Leica M lenses to be simply phenomenal! They're extremely sharp, even in the extreme corners (where my Canon glass didn't fare so well). These lenses are sharper and more contrasty than what I've gotten used to, even when shot at wide apertures - and that even applies to the wide-angle lenses! Through some trial and error and lens trading through eBay, I've finally settled on the 21mm Elmarit, 50mm Summicron, 35mm Summilux and 90mm Elmarit as my "kit".
    The CCD sensor in the M9 bucks the CMOS trend and certainly affords the M9 a unique image signature that I'm finding really lovely. Overall, it feels very film-like to me. From my own experience, I've noticed that the M9's files require much less post-processing than my Canons or any of my other cameras.
    Though I agree that a good photographer can take a great picture with just about any camera, a superb one like this certainly makes it a lot easier to get the results and consistency I want. I really love this camera!
  • 2012-10-15 07:00
    Caveat Emptor, J. S. Cooper "Conspicuous Consumer"
    Clarification: i purchased an M9-P not an M9.
    I can't really review this camera as I never owned one, but I do own several Leica M film cameras, and a lot of expensive Leica glass. I bought a Leica M9-P and kept it for a day, and didn't like it all. I but I fail to understand how this older camera can be far superior to the more recently released, but similarly priced M9-P.
    Buyers of this camera body should do extensive research before purchasing and be sure to realize that this is not the recently released M9-P but the older M9. And if they are similar, I don't understand the rave reviews of this thicker M body (compared to an M2, 3 or 4) can be better although I don't know the differences except this model appears to carry the Leica red dot logo on the front.
    Do your homework, and know that it might be wise to check it out at a brick and mortar store before dropping more than six grand buying it online. I worked for Phil Levine in the seventies and sold a lot of Leicas with him, and doubt that he would have left his name to anyone buying his business, so you might benefit from giving a call to the folks who now own E. P. Levine in MA. They likely know their stuff and can offer good advice on the new digital M's. I have no connection with them, but Phil was one of the top Leica guys in the country in his time.
  • 2012-10-15 07:00
    Caveat Emptor, Shelly "Conspicuous Consumer"
    Clarification: i purchased an M9-P not an M9.
    I can't really review this camera as I never owned one, but I do own several Leica M film cameras, and a lot of expensive Leica glass. I bought a Leica M9-P and kept it for a day, and didn't like it all. I but I fail to understand how this older camera can be far superior to the more recently released, but similarly priced M9-P.
    Buyers of this camera body should do extensive research before purchasing and be sure to realize that this is not the recently released M9-P but the older M9. And if they are similar, I don't understand the rave reviews of this thicker M body (compared to an M2, 3 or 4) can be better although I don't know the differences except this model appears to carry the Leica red dot logo on the front.
    Do your homework, and know that it might be wise to check it out at a brick and mortar store before dropping more than six grand buying it online. I worked for Phil Levine in the seventies and sold a lot of Leicas with him, and doubt that he would have left his name to anyone buying his business, so you might benefit from giving a call to the folks who now own E. P. Levine in MA. They likely know their stuff and can offer good advice on the new digital M's. I have no connection with them, but Phil was one of the top Leica guys in the country in his time.
  • 2012-10-15 07:00
    Caveat Emptor, J. Sheldon Cooper "Conspicuous Consumer"
    Clarification: i purchased an M9-P not an M9.
    I can't really review this camera as I never owned one, but I do own several Leica M film cameras, and a lot of expensive Leica glass. I bought a Leica M9-P and kept it for a day, and didn't like it all. I but I fail to understand how this older camera can be far superior to the more recently released, but similarly priced M9-P.
    Buyers of this camera body should do extensive research before purchasing and be sure to realize that this is not the recently released M9-P but the older M9. And if they are similar, I don't understand the rave reviews of this thicker M body (compared to an M2, 3 or 4) can be better although I don't know the differences except this model appears to carry the Leica red dot logo on the front.
    Do your homework, and know that it might be wise to check it out at a brick and mortar store before dropping more than six grand buying it online. I worked for Phil Levine in the seventies and sold a lot of Leicas with him, and doubt that he would have left his name to anyone buying his business, so you might benefit from giving a call to the folks who now own E. P. Levine in MA. They likely know their stuff and can offer good advice on the new digital M's. I have no connection with them, but Phil was one of the top Leica guys in the country in his time.