Leica M9 review

The 18MP digital camera with a full-frame sensor proves doubters wrong

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Leica m9 review

Leica is renowned for the longevity of its cameras as much as it is for the high quality of its optics, and the M9 doesn't disappoint.

The rangefinder shell is built from a die-cast magnesium alloy, while the top and bottom plates are made from brass. The whole bottom plate needs to be removed to access the digital camera's battery and card, and while this is slightly awkward, it does give the camera far more protection than a simple plastic door.

Everything is clearly designed and built to last for years of service, right down to the powerful spring that releases the rangefinder's battery.

In terms of design, the Leica M9 adheres to the M-series motif, and differs only slightly from the M8. The battery display/shot indicator has disappeared from the camera's top plate, while on the rear the only change is an ISO button in place of the M8's Protect control.

Leica m9

Sensitivity is easily accessed, and with the Set button beneath this so are the rest of the camera's key controls, such white balance and file type. But it'd be helpful to have a way of manually adjusting exposure compensation, rather than having to go through the menu to do so.

Although the camera's buttons are small, they're well spaced apart from each other, and each is clearly labelled. Once you as a photographer are familiar with the menu system, nothing is particularly difficult to access, and the 28 menu options appear in a single long list.

There are even four user profiles that may have settings assigned to them, although none of the external controls can be customised to bring up a function of your choosing.

Leica m9

Handling is a mixed experience on the Leica M9. Although the large body means you can hold the camera without inadvertently knocking any controls, there's no grip or contouring.

The strap lug on the side of the camera's body protrudes into the palm of your hand. It's far more comfortable to slot this between your index and middle finger, although accessing the shutter release buttons and drive mode options becomes difficult if you have anything but the largest hands. Should you find all this to be an issue, you can buy a grip that fits into the camera's tripod thread.

Tech Specs

Product TypeMirrorless Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Effective Camera Resolution18 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilyM
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
ColourSteel Grey
Digital ZoomNo
Brand NameLeica
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode
Screen Size6.4 cm (2.5")
Viewfinder TypeOptical
Weight (Approximate)585 g
Image Sensor Size23.90 mm x 35.80 mm
Maximum Image Resolution5212 x 3472
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height80 mm
Width139 mm
Depth37 mm
Product SeriesM
Image FormatsRAW, JPEG
Focus ModesManual
ManufacturerLeica Microsystems GmbH
Product ModelM9
Product NameM9 Mirrorless Camera
Exposure Control
  • Auto
  • Aperture Priority
  • Manual
Manufacturer Part Number10705
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.leica-camera.com
Marketing Information

As the world's most compact full-format digital camera system, the Leica M9 sets a new benchmark for modern M photography. It boasts outstanding performance and consummate technical prowess - attributes that it shares with Yaniel Merino, the promising up-and-coming boxer from Cuba. The M9 followed him for a day in his home city of Havana, where he trains under fairly basic conditions and dreams of winning the Olympics. His dream has been captured authentically and vibrantly by the M9. Discrete, compact and precise, the M9 is as superb a performer as Yaniel himself and like him, also claims to be among the best in the world.