DXO Tests the M9/ME sensor with worst Full Frame results ever

DXO Tests the M9/ME sensor with worst Full Frame results ever


So it seems some in the Leica world are a little upset that DXO has published their first tests ever on the Leica M9/ME/M9P sensor and they reported that the sensor in these cameras produced the worst results of any full frame sensor they have ever tested. Here is exactly what they said:

“The 24x36mm full frame CCD sensor utilized in the Leica M Series rangefinder cameras produce significantly poorer raw image quality, compared to results from DSLRs featuring a CMOS alternative.

In fact, with a DxOMark Overall Score of 68, or 69 for the Leica M9, M9-P and ME Type 220, these cameras offer the worst image quality DxOMark have tested on a full frame sensor, with the exception of the 10-year-old Canon EOS 1Ds.

No doubt Leica enthusiasts will assert we’re comparing apples and pears, and the advantages the Leica M System offers in terms of simple control, portability and discretion, as well as first class engineering, are more important.

It’s fair to say too these results purely examine the data from the sensor, excluding the impact top quality Leica M Mount glass will have on the real world results. At base ISO sensitivities Dynamic Range and Color Depth scores aren’t quite as far away from competition, like the Canon EOS 1Dx and 5D MKIII, as the DxOMark Overall Scores might suggest.”

Because of this report I have had maybe 30 e-mails from concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their came because of these results. The answer to that is a big fat NO unless you want to move on for some reason.


It is obvious, and I have stated this years ago, that DXO does not test these cameras by taking images. Not one Leica lens was mounted to their ME/M9 for this test and by taking date from just the sensor they miss out on what the M9 was designed to do. DXO can not measure the REAL IQ nor can they measure things like usability, simplicity, and the experience of shooting with an M camera.

Many of us have seen INCREDIBLE results from the M9/ME and in fact, I prefer the output of the M9 to most DSLR’s, even those made today (Nikon D800 may be the exception but it’s too damn big for my tastes and for an everyday camera) and the numbers that DXO show can not and do not in any way tell us what the real output of the M9 is with quality glass.

With my M9 over the years I have shot pro work, family, and every day images and I have rarely been disappointed with what has come out of the camera. I know many others who have shot high-end fashion for magazines with their M9 and others who have made tens of thousands of dollars with their work from the M9.

With that said, DXO tests can give you an idea of what to expect from a sensor and yes, the M9/ME has an AGING sensor that is lacking in a few areas but do not take those numbers and somehow feel that your camera is all of a sudden not able to take great photos. The M9 had the ability to take jaw dropping quality shots since 09/09/09 and it still does today. It may not and does not have the CMOS low light quality nor does it have the best Dynamic Range today but the sensor is still highly capable.

As for the M9/ME/M9P vs the new M, well, the CMOS in the new M easily beats the M9/ME sensor in high ISO, dynamic range, color and overall richness of file. My M 240 review will have MUCH more and even an M9/M comparison with an RX1 and Fuji X100s shot thrown in for the high ISO tests. This will be up by Tuesday March 12th. 


  1. oh gosh…!
    what am i suppose to ? what am i suppose to do?
    i am still using it happily after complementary sensor replacement by Leica lately.

  2. Leica is an overpriced, underfeatured trophy camera for insecure photographers more interested in their image than the image. No image stabilization, and autofocus – there goes your precious IQ with slower shutter speeds and camera movement typical of street shooting. Throw a Zeiss lens on a Sony a7 and you have excellent quality at 1/4-1/5 the price. But to Leica fetishists it’s a religion – they don’t need no stinkin’ facts, “everybody knows” Leica rules the world.

  3. DxO is about linearity, but the human perception is not linear and everyone has different curve
    , so there should be some difference between the result from DxO and subjective image quality.

  4. I was wondering why i am getting so interested in this discussion, and i realized that it reminds me of a very similar, very interesting discussion i had with the people involved in my other hobby, building bicycles.

    The world of custom bike builders is usually populated with very good craftsmen, who work small projects in small workshops, by hand; but also the oddball engineer, who is interested in applying his math to a cool project, or just welding some steel or laying up some carbon.

    A lot of times, the discussion on forums goes in the same direction: Some technical site or person posts some tests/measurements/findings and 2 sides form, the “we dont need to stinkin math telling us what is what” side, and the “omg need to educate all these people with our awesome math” side.

    What I found is that the discussion is interesting exactly because both views are correct.
    On one hand, the math doesnt lie. The numbers, if correctly measured, are correct and relevant. Just like math goes in the bearings and steel compositions that the most hands-on craftsman uses in his hand-crafted bike, the math is similarly used to generate the lenses, sensors and film compositions that the most artistic photographer employs.

    On the other hand, bigger numbers are not always better. A sensor such as the one in the M9 might be “nicer” looking than a new sensor with better numbers, just like a 24 fps movie looks “better” than a crisper 60fps TV program. There are many other examples one can give, and they are all correct and relevant.

    Interestingly, these imperfections are captured by math as well, and engineers are able to dial in the perfect amount and type of imperfection. Check out the Sony STF lens (http://www.dyxum.com/columns/articles/lenses/sal-135f28/sony-af-135-stf-sal-135f28_review.asp) to see a nice example of engineers finding a way to add the “perfect” amount of imperfection to a lens. Of course, this will not look good to everyone. People are imperfect in different ways.

    Just like engineers are able to calculate what bike geometry feels good to a person, they should be able to generate images that look good in a camera. Sometimes they do a good job, and sometimes they dont. The buyers should not let them hide behind all the marketing hype of either BIG numbers, or undefined CHARACTER claims.

    The numbers should be just right.

    • Hey Victor, so we have two interests in common! To throw some oil on this fire: welding steel is for framebuilders that don’t have the skill to braze properly, lugless brazing in particular. With my last steel frame, a Roberts one built with Reynolds 953, lugless wasn’t possible. Too brittle, so he used lugs.

      Now I’m into carbon; two Time RXRS Ulteams… They’ve got character, a different character from steel though…

      • Brazing? Silver solider. Lower temperature that does not anneal the typically-used chromium molybdenum alloy as much thereby retaining more of the alloys yield strength.

  5. I find myself agreeing with DxO. We all have used many different cameras. We can all appreciate the quality of each camera. If they could mount a Fuji Sensor on an M that would be my ideal combination.
    Just because DxO make their scientific test and form their conclusions does not mean you can’t take a great image with a Leica M. It’s the Photographer not the Camera. It’s the integrated package between lens, camera, light quality and photographer.

    I use whatever gives me photographic inspiration. It happens the a Leica much of the time. DxO are not inspiring . They are clinical. Therefore they will not be artistic or photographic.

    Thanks Steve for a great website

  6. I don’t see why people are upset about the results, and also say they are irrelevant. The results are relevant in regards to objective technical comparisons.

  7. i shoot a NEX with a Leica 35mm for 1 year and i could understand the pleasure, liberty, art-craft and all the other sensation that a leica could give. But, at the end of the day, IQ beats snobbism. Terms like best engineering, freedom of..[whatever], simplicity, stealthiness and so on could be countered with habit, practice, best IQ, final result, great prints.
    If they do not change the sensor and part of their philosophy, they could be the next Nokia. And they do not have any product-for-the-mases to rely on, as Nokia has.

  8. Plain to see that The Emporer has not any Clothes. But of course special people will choose to see and believe what they choose. The M9 is an overpriced artifact..hence why Dxo waited until the M 240 came out to reveal the truth about the M9 …that it seriously underperforms a full frame at 1/3 price! But go on convince yourself that it has hat special quality.

  9. Each sensor is like a unique film. Whether it’s a film or sensor, each has a unique characteristic. Bottom line, it’s the photographer. Not the film, not the sensor, not the camera, not the lens. Just the photographer and that person’s unique vision.

  10. Who cares? Buy what you want, use what you want, most people know that all cameras have their faults and their strong points – that is what gives them, combined with the user, their character and certsin “look”! Some say its only the result that matters, i say rubbish, for me the whole experience matters . To that end for me film is still king and for others its a Leica M9 with a crappy sensor 🙂 joking btw.

  11. DxO is pornography for technicist, their tests haven’t nothing to do with photography.
    Their numbers don’t say nothing about the character of sensors and lenses.

      • I’ll try to explain myself, but keep in mind, my english is awful so i can be not so clear:i think a sensor have own signature, besides the numbers in data sheets:how it render the colors and the detail for example, how it works with particular lenses, the look of the grain and so on.
        I have a OM-D, a Panasonic L1 and a Fuji S5 and all of them have a different signature in images:Oly is, on paper, the best, but i like the gradual tones of the S5 and i use it when i search that kind of look.
        On this basis, i think that “character” is more important than numbers of DXO, many others has same thought(those who choose a Sigma besides all the trouble because the Foveon, or Oly enthusiasts who call E-1 “The venerable” and uses it, even if they have a E-5 or a Om-D).
        Probably the Kodak ccd of the M9 is technically worst than modern FF CMOS, but have his look and many likes it and, i think, feeling with own gear is important.

    • The “character” of the sensor is hand-forged by little elves in a Bavarian forest. Numbers are never used in the design of “real” electronics…

          • Are you sure of that? I thought digital rays of light hit the lens and then get processed somewhere in the innards of the camera.

          • thats exactly what happens, and the DAC is in the innards of the camera.

            What happens is that each photosite generates a voltage proportional with the amount of light hitting it. Then this analogue voltage must be converted to a digital “number” , which is a number of bits long. This is done using the DAC (digital analogue converter). This digital signal is not just 1 or 0, but a number representing, in finite steps, the amount of light for that site.

            Then, the camera cooks the JPEG based on what color filter is in front of that photosite and its neighbours.

            The elves are the ones that look at the voltage and type in the number. The ones in the Leica apperantly have character.



    • No. Don’t be an enabler to ridiculous Leica pricing. You will do Leica more good in the long run if you don’t buy the M9. Ultimately, Leica would get the message. An M9 is three times the amount of most cameras in the market. Three times!! Not 20% but three times. It’s like paying $120,000 for a BMW 3 series. If you love a bimmer maybe you pay 10% – 25% above its competitors but not three times more regardless if you can afford it. What’s even worse is that for three times the amount you get 25% less of what other cameras give you. You lose on both sides of the equation. Demand more from Leica. They used to be great camera company that now acts more like Hermes or Cartier. Of course in the end it’s your decision as it should be. 🙂

  12. Ha ha! The Blind Test at LAST! Despite all the “Yes, But…” replies, these findings are totally, for the majority of people,(with some interest in photography and cameras vs people only interested in Leicas) UNSURPRISING. Of course there is still the last defence, which is” …unless you have owned and used a Leica you will NEVER understand!” The only sensible comment out of all this is “buy mine before the prices crash!”, based on a Universal Principle! OK, you can say that some things are totally surprising and some are totally predictable. This finding is NOT SURPRISING! It is AMUSING, just like people driving German Cars designed by Italians thinking they have the best engineering AND Style…! Almost as entertainng as seeing a 75 y.o. driving a Meserati in a Hawain shirt.
    Chin UP fellas, Leica it or not…there is still hope & lighten up, Y2K, Niburu & the Mayan Calender didn’t deliver either….

  13. This reminds me of one of the classic argument in hign end audio – an equipment that measures perfectly but lifeless in listening condition versus an equipment that measures full of distortion and flaws but has lots of emotion when listened too. Reviews are just additional information and it is up to us to say they are relavant or not.

    As for the people who emailed Steve asking for advice if they have to sell their M9s – I think they really should sell since they still just didn’t get it and will probabbly never will.

  14. Damn there are a lot of replies here! Some freaking ridiculous ones too! You have one group, the people who have bought an M9 defending it mercilessly at the expense of common sense and then the people who cant afford one jumping at the chance to take the former group down a notch or two from their perceived pedestal, for owning such an expensive camera.

    Lets be honest for a second, the dxo review scores for the M9’s sensor aren’t actually all that bad, especially for how old it is, in fact, no full frame sensor is all that bad imo (and I would take an old FF sensor over a new m43 sensor any day of the week and I have owned both). By today’s standards it is below average in most areas except noise handling where it really falls behind. But putting the low light performance aside, the differences between the M9 and most other digital cameras are going to be pretty indiscernible in real world examples. With only the low light performance being an obvious flaw in example images and, even when the camera was new, it was never great in this regard and something that people who bought it, should have known.

    Now I’m not saying that dxo mark should be ignored, I am a big believer in looking at technical specs when making a decision, people here seem to believe you ether have to make you decision 100% on lab tests or not at all and that is a load of crap. They are just one aspect of judging a cameras imaging performance, and imaging performance is just one aspect of a cameras worth.

    The M9 has and is still capable of creating amazing images, it has great resolution, especially when paired with the right lenses, and I think one would struggle to find it wanting in dynamic range or color depth in real world tests. Comparing it to the RX1’s 24mp FF sensor, which I think most people would agree is one of the most advanced sensors around. Yes it looks very lacking when looking at a DXO comparison, but in regards to color depth, how many people are going to look at a print and notice that 2.4bit difference? More noticeable would be the 2.6evs of dynamic range if one wanted latitude in editing, but that is easy enough to live with, with correct exposure. No one will argue that the M9 doesn’t have impressive resolution with its best lenses and I’m sure it would make comparably high quality gallery sized prints vs the RX1 even though the RX1 might be able to be printed a little larger.

    Sometimes you need to decide which of these aspects of a sensor is more important to you. But again, lets not forget that the M9 is an old camera by today’s standards and that there was no RX1 back when the M9 came out, in fact there was very little in serious competition in this segment, and nothing in the way of FF mirror less competition.

    At the end of the day, the biggest problem for a camera in this price bracket is the rapid pace at which technology advances these days. Is the M9 really all that bad? Is it now useless or was it always useless? The truth is just because it isn’t the best in one respect doesn’t mean it isn’t in others or that there isn’t a target market that will want it regardless. Just because their are cheaper cameras capable of achieving higher quality doesn’t mean that the M9 will suddenly stop taking photos.

    I wish people could grow up a little and find more useful things to debate, people who can’t afford a product are always going to be envious of those that can, but just because one can afford something doesn’t mean they should have to justify that purchase to others. A camera is just a tool, some people seem to forget that, different tools suit different people and different needs and just because the price vs value of a product isn’t obvious or easily measured doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    No if I am being honest, I wouldn’t buy an M9 today myself, even if I had the money to spend. I guess I just don’t value what it offers enough to justify the still high price when other cameras such as the RX1 are available for less and offer things that I might value more (such as better low light performance), but that doesn’t mean others will feel the same way, or value the same things as me. So each to their own.

    • Behaving like an adult on the internets?! away with you!!

      Whole-heartedly support your perspective. However, I am reminded of one of my first professors in engineering school, who was always telling us : ” What anyone can do with 2$, an engineer can do with 1$”. Doesnt mean that engineers only do cheap things, but that they get the results using less (money, resources, etc).

      So from my point of view, when some engineers build a camera for a lot of money and use a sensor that is below the level of those used by other engineers in much cheaper cameras, it raises some red flags.

      Did they do a good job with the M9? Definitely. For the price however, I would expect even more.

      P.S. If anyone brings up the damn bumblebees again, I will get rather angry. Engineers and scientists KNOW and STUDY how they fly. They also build the cameras you enjoy so much using numbers, and computers, and charts and math.
      There is no “character” of the sensor or lens that they havent quantified and carefully tuned using numbers and math.

      • Very true. He forgot to add that for the $1 spent, Marketing spent $10 telling the buying public that the engineer had spent $5. And Management spent $10 on management facilities and cars.

        I prefer the “Anyone, anyone can build a bridge that stays up. But it takes an engineer to build one that only just stays up.” Same story but emphasises the engineer not the financial dept. who of course think that all engineers are spendthrifts and need reigning in.

  15. DxO is a bit like the opposite of Steve Huff.

    They show us scientific test charts realized under controled environment with no lens attached to the camera to see how the sensor is supposed to match or unmatch 3 criterias they’ve chosen.

    They forget about real world use, real world rendering, real world colors, real word 3d effects and so on.

    I cannot believe there are people who would chose their camera depending on DxO stupid “average overall result”.

  16. OFFER: willing to pay 1000 $ for a prestine M 9 – get rid of it before the price crashes!!

    I heard some one found out that van Gogh painted with inferior color – sell your paintings now before they become worthless.


  17. Being better technically does not always mean best at what it is used for, or in some cases, it does not matter. Some times better technical specifications do not result in better operation, often they do. Nor in acceptance or usability. VHS v Betamax comes to mind. Queen Mary 2 pod drive v conventional drive. Then to add to technical specifications, is the practicality. If higher technical specifications were the factor the Minox would never have been used by spys, they would have used a fold out Bessa with a Helomar lens and Compur-rapid shutter http://www.ebay.com/itm/Voigtlander-Bessa-catalogo-illustrativo-1935-E93-/330608541469?pt=Vintage_Fotografia_amatoriale_e_professionale&hash=item4cf9cdff1d
    and had a nice line of patter ready for when they were challenged. So, no, higher specifications do not mean better by default.
    When looking at Photos taken 10 years ago by digital cameras. Are the magazine articles of the time or the test results of the time a prerequisite to looking at the images? After all, by the standards of the day, just as today, some images according to those reports will be fatally flawed and impossible to look at, and we must know in advance which ones. Or we may not know. Oh, what a disaster that would be. Does any one but the most ardent measurement fiend even keep or remember such reports and articles. But we still enjoy the photos.
    In 20 or 50 years time when someone looks at a photo taken yesterday, today or tomorrow. Will they ask for the Dox (or similar) report on the camera so they can see the faults they should look for? I don’t think so, they will look at the image and comment “I like that one” or “yuk” or “great lighting”, “Over exposed” or with today’s trends “over saturated” There will be lots of “this one is very sharp” with replys such as “Who cares. Look at this one. Just look at the funny clothes they used to wear , its a lot more interesting”
    So Leica M9 sensor rating by Dox? What’s the point. We all know it has some noise difficulties we have noted that for years. It uses a different technology than others we also know that. We all like the images today and in a few years time or less Dox will be a non participant in the viewings.

  18. The DXO tests are crazy. Same about their tests of the Olympus MFT prime lenses where they still used an old gh2 with last generation sensor instead of an OM-D or similar.
    And at the end of the day such ratings will never matter. It’s all about personal preference and which gear a photographer feels most comfortable with.

    • Happens all the time (Lenstip test new Oly glass with GF1 or so). I am/was a professional software tester and it is dearned difficult to do a consistent test in an ever changing environment. Camera testing is a black art……for instance Lens Rentals raves about the 35 mm end of the Pana 35-100 while an other site (forgot which one) raves about the 100 mm end….different blokes, different expectations and different opinions. Hapens all the time…..therefore I stopped caring that much about tests performed at pixel peep level….

      Greets, Ed.

  19. I think this blog post makes it even worse because it sounds so desperate. This post should come with tags around it.

    Some of the statements Steve made are just laughable. DXO tests camera sensors, all on the same conditions. In the end, all cameras are supposed to take pictures. How is a Leica camera different from other cameras in that perspective? Do Leica lenses sprinkle magic fairy dust on the light before it hits the sensor? No.

    When you buy a M6, will you put crappy film in your camera and expect excellent pictures because the lenses will make it all go away and safe the day? No, of course not.

    Am I saying that the sensor in these Leicas is crap? No, not on absolute terms. 10 years ago, these sensors were probably unbeatable. But nowadays, you can buy a Micro Four Thirds camera that scores higher than these Leicas at a fraction of the cost.

    Am I saying that these cameras are way too expensive and a rip-off? Too expensive: yes. A ripp-off? No, that’s for every body to decide for themselves and Leica doesn’t really have a high margin on these items, that’s even the saddest part.

    The most entertaining fact however is, when hurt pride makes people write ridiculous statements.

  20. Well,

    No surprise there……..the Leica scores bad on low light performance (all CCD sensors do)…..and most Leiconians give a you know what about low light performace, hell I give a you know what about low light performance. Leica is not about the sensor, it’s about the GLASSSSSSS! And believe me that is stellar. If I had the choice of camera, I would sell all my camera’s for a Leica M9 and a 35 and 28 and be happy. But having said that…..well even if I did I wouldn’t be able to afford one, so I’m happy with what I got (also deficient in the low light department and with a DxO score of 71…….).

    Greets, Ed.

    • > Leica is not about the sensor, it’s about the GLASSSSSSS!

      What you really wanted to say “It’s all about the GASSSSS”, am I right?

      • As in,

        Gear Aquisition Syndrome LOL……nah, Leica is to expensive for an impulse buy…..at least for me. If I bought one of these babies, I would have to be 1000% sure I was gonna use the living daylights out of it.

        Greets, Ed.

  21. Wait, is anyone actually surprised to hear that Leica’s cameras are technologically inferior to their competitors’? I thought that was common knowledge. They are basically hugely overpriced mules designed to carry Leica lenses. The new M240 may be Leica’s first truly worthy digital camera. It’s too soon to say, although Steve will be giving us his opinion shortly. My guess is he will like it.

  22. I wonder why Leica chose this particular sensor at the time of designing the M9. They have great bodies, and outstanding lens. They also charge 7k for the camera. Why did they not choose/buy a better sensor?

    My theory is that they were lazy in that respect, and counted on their other advantages. However, the mirrorless cameras have many of the advantages of a M, for a fraction of the price. Sure, they might not be as well built, and their sensors are not full frame, but they are small and can take the Leica glass, and cost less than 1/7 of the price.

    I find it very interesting to read the new M review. They fixed their sensor, got some of the features in the camera, etc. Would love to try one, but I got student loans to pay.

    Now, about some of the replies, they are quite ridiculous. For example:

    “people just need this kind of “leica sucks” information cause they feel very very good not needing their leica. specially for people who can’t afford it, this dxo thingy is fabulous information. they suddenly can take a deep breath, relax and shoot with their crappy cameras. (…) and I really don’t understand what are these nerdy tech maniacs doing here… in this kind of practical site about shooting pictures”

    First of all, cameras are made by engineers. Leica engineers KNOW that the sensor in M9 was crappy, they either had no budget for a better one (doubt it at 7k per camera) or decided they can rely on the other positive aspects of the camera and still sell a ton of them (and they were right).

    These sort of replies are quite weird coming from people who enjoy cameras made by the “nerdy tech maniacs”. Trust me, the nerdier the maniac, the better the camera. Show some respect for the people behind the objects you enjoy.

    Second of all, a (hopefully small) minority of Leica owners are just so damn smug about their rich-people camera. (see above). This makes other photographers (such as a NEX5n user like me) enjoy seeing them taken down a notch.
    A bit of perspective is always good, but in the end, it is still a hobby for most people involved.



  23. 212 responses!!!
    Some serious Leicaholic pissing-off in here.
    I would be so, knowing that I was charged 6K for a defective sensor.

  24. Those who put value on the objective measurement of a sensor should not be dismissed as Leica haters or science geeks. I am neither. The limitations of a sensor like subpar film plays a role in IQ. What the DXO review showed is the quantitative shortcoming of the sensor. This should not have been a surprise to anyone. What is personally surprising to me is the degree of deficiency. When coupled with the price of an M9 and the investment one makes in the lenses it is a bit of a disappointment. When I shoot with my M3 I shoot with the best film available because I want to take full advantage of the Leica lens. If you shoot with subpar film the results will suffer. The same logic holds with a subpar sensor. I want Leica to succeed. To me it’s about demanding more from a company that asks you to pony up a substantial amount when compared to other camera makers.

  25. Good Leica people.


    DxO Mark is a test of the sensor. Not the camera, not the lenses, and certainly not the photograph!
    So don’t take the test personally. Personally I’m using Sigma cameras so I’m used to get useless criticisms due to limited high ISO capabilities (except for B&W). Sigma however shines on normal ISPs like Leica. If I win in the national lottery I’ll buy Leica, for sure. However, I have four mouths to feed and cannot afford it. I love the sharpness and colour of M8 and M9 ( hope M 240 improves, as it is not impressive currently). But then I also love the sharpness and colour of Foveon and I can afford it :-). And the Merrill cameras are truly great!

    If DxO mark was the ultimate test, then why would we need post prom cessing software? Then everybody wout take documentary photos. Boring beyond belief. Leica (and Sigma) photos are the tenderloin for post processing and making great photos.

    So, relax, keep up the excellent work and have faith!

  26. I don’t love or hate Leica cameras. They look cool. Apparently, their sensor technology is old, and for the asking price, it’s a bit of an embarrassment that their cameras can’t compete on technical competence. Their lenses sure do, but even the newest bodies apparently cannot.

    Doesn’t mean you can’t make phenomenal pictures with them – it’s just that Leica owners ought to expect more.

    Imagine if Mercedes tried selling big V8 coupes and sedans with half the hp and torque of equivalent Audis and BMW’s. They would have a tough sell.

    Apparently, Leica isn’t really concerned with such things. It’s apparently become a lifestyle brand first and a photography tool second.

  27. Can we have the names of the “photographers” that want to sell their M9 ???
    Anyway, they don’t deserve a Leica because their photos won’t be any better that the ones they take with their Iphone…

    That’s pathetic. Period.

  28. As a long time Lecia owner, I have to say, I’m not happy. Whether the Dxo report is accurate or not, the tremors caused by this throughout the industry may cause resale value to go down, at least on my digital Leicas. And quite honestly, the thought of being so easily bamboozled is a bit embarrassing. I guess I’ll go shoot my M3 until this blows over.

  29. FAQ/S about this

    “These mean nothing and blah blah blah I see it as being better with my eye. Lab geeks.”

    Fine. All these tests say is that the raw sensor is inferior to much less expensive offerings.
    It’s not saying it’s “bad”. “bad” is subjective. Saying tests can show how good leica sensor is but
    works fine for all other sensors is basically just like alt health people who say that their thing can’t be tested, because it fails it and they KNOW it works.
    You still have a camera you like using with lenses you like using. You maybe unknowingly as involved in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspicuous_consumption

    Don’t insult people just because you don’t like the results of their work.

    “Haha I knew it , Leica suck!!!

    Chances are you always knew that Leica are “overpriced” for what you’d pay for personally. (They are for me).
    Whether you think they suck or not is fine and up to you, however they can take great pictures, it’s just likely there is a
    bit of psychology at work as to why someone thinks they take a more unique picture.
    They are still the only real Digital Full frame rangefinder game in town that I’m aware of, so even if the pictures aren’t “unique”,
    they are still good and they still have a unique picture TAKING experience.

    Should I sell my camera??

    Honestly, if you’re asking this then probably yes. You’re not invested enough in the Leica mythos to shrug this off then you could
    save an AWFUL lot of money and gain a much more versatile camera by selling off.

    people who say “Should I sell my camera??” are idiots!

    No, they just didn’t realise what they were buying. They thought they had the best image quality in the world etc.
    Chances are they just have great image quality and a unique picture taking experience. (unique is not implied to mean better by me here).

    There’s probably more but hopefully I’ve balanced a few of the extremes.

  30. Flawed or not – who cares.
    Personally for me counts what I see with my eyes and how I like it.
    I have used various DSLRs and other cameras over the years.
    I do no that I personally prefer the IQ I get from the M9 up to ISO640 over that I got from the d3x,d700 and 5diii.
    I dont know if it is technically better or worse, but I prefer it.
    There is a “clarity” and micro detail and overall look I just like and which looks more natural and less digital to me.
    What part is lens and what part sensor? I dont even care.

    What I dont understand why some Leica people get nervous just because DXO technical analyser software has calculated some numbers.

    I am not Leica fanboy by the way – for some purpose I also like to have AF and enjoy the 5dIII and OMD quite a bit as well.

  31. Let’s get real for a minute — Leica sensors will always trail behind the giant electronics manufacturers e.g., Sony and Canikon b/c they specialize in making electronics.

    First of all, Leica is at the mercy of TrueSense (Kodak) or even CMOSIS in Belgium, who makes the CMOS sensor in the new M Type 240, which I suspect is also grossly inferior (technically) to every other FX sensor available today.

    Secondly, Leica has technical limitations on the type of sensor they can marry to a compact body while also accommodating M I/C lenses (Sony could do it in the RX-1 but that has its limitations, the biggest of which is the single focal length).

    Thirdly, let’s face it, we (people who bought Leica) bought into the Leica “mystique” which is a romanticized view of photography that has been hyped up by Leica’s marketing group — kinda like the iPhone 5 is technically inferior to the Samsung Galaxy S III, but more people still stand in line to buy the iPhone 5. It’s not a shame to say we bought into a brand because of its heritage and the panache of its name. I once asked my wife why she spent so much $$$ on Louis Vuitton and Chanel handbags, and she replied that its because of the reputation of the fashion house, and the haute couture nature of the designer bags. I’ve come to accept that is it and there is nothing more to it — she bought into a brand and all of its accouterments; nothing more. I buy Apple and Leica for the same reasons she buys Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

    Finally, don’t overlook the economics. For Leica, you’re paying some person in Germany Euro 30 per hour to make the camera in a factory in Weltzar, Germany. I recently purchased a Bechstein upright piano for my daughter from Faust & Harrison in Manhattan. I asked the gentleman in sales why the Bechstein was more costly than a far more technically advanced Yamaha NX3 model. His response was instructive here — if you want a piano with electronic parts sourced from Thailand, Japan, and elsewhere, then go with the technically superior Yamaha, but if you want a plain piano sourced and made in Germany and just produces a sound that is just so finely hand calibrated, then you need to pony up and buy the Bechstein. The center of the electronics world is in Asia, not Europe and not the US. The EU will never be able to economically compete with Asia on electronics, so if its the most advanced electronics you want, then buy Japanese or Korean. But if you want photographic equipment made in Germany and sourced from the EU, then pony up and pay the price.

    Thus, I don’t think the DxO results are useless as some here claim. They tell you exactly what you already knew, which is that you bought a Leica because its a Leica — nothing more. Enjoy it!!!

    • I agree totally with your reflections on Leica brand. Two years ago I bought a second hand M8 and a Leica lens because I couldn’t afford an M9 . I was happy with it during the first year. Above all I loved the simplicity, the easygoing way of shooting a rangefinder, I learned to shoot by zone focusing. After one year I begun to fight against its limitations, and now I have came back to a DSLR Canon.

      So I am not ashamed to say that I also bought a Leica because it was a Leica.

  32. Whether the Dx0 numbers carry weight is a personal opinion. Some will say facts don’t lie, and some will point that in real life, you can’t tell the different between Leica M9 shots and another full frame camera.

    Haters will hate, and fans will defend. It does not matter which you favour, if you’re happy with your camera, then that’s fine.

    Leica has never been about technical image quality, by only making 35mm film cameras, vs. medium format or large format, they made sure of that. We use Leica for the same reason people like classic cars or nice watches, some people simply prefer a different way of doing things. It’s not about being “better”, it’s never been about being better, it’s about personal preference, and stats are irrelevant there.

  33. IMO the tests are relevant because the M9 price far exceeds anything in the market. At a minimum it should be expected to hold its own against other camera makers. I have to believe that DXO didn’t take lightly the wording used in the review. Perhaps the tests are flawed a bit but nevertheless DXO should be complemented for not sugarcoating the review simply because of Leica’s legendary status. The timing of the review is another question all together and frankly puzzles me.

  34. Well how can you justify DxO testing a full complement of Leica cameras at the end of their product cycle and not the beginning. I just had an idea that maybe Leica wanted this test, because it will push many happy owners of M9 to go for M240, although most of the files seen so far leave a lot to be desired compared to Cuba shots from M9. Now, all you have to do is have DxO publish M240 score which will definitely be in the high eighties, and here comes the onslaught of sales by the ones that even didn’t use M9 much but have to have the best.

  35. The DxO results blow me away and open my mind thank you so much. Now I will sell all my digital Leicas M8.2 and X1 and I can´t wait to do this as fast as possible because Fuji and Nikon are Gadgets to buy now. Thank you Dxo that you helped me to make this important decision. But please I also have an M6 and a CL and I load it with Tri X very often please can you review Tri X and Porta 160. Do you think I have to sell the M6 also or is it okay to keep it. More information by DxO please because I want to take better pictures.

  36. I guess they changed the testing procedures seeing that the newly tested ME has different result from the m9 and m9p? They all have the same sensor, right?

  37. The M240 sucks ? That is great news !
    Let’s see if this drives the price down a bit. I am getting one 😉

  38. In the light of DXO’s test 30 people ask whether they should get rid of their M9/M-Es etc? Seriously?

    If this report isn’t an early April Fool joke, my advice is YES! Immediately! Sell, sell, sell! Trust me, your Leica digital M9/M-E is now confirmed as a worthless point & shoot.

    The quality of your pictures is complete rubbish. I mean, just look at the results. Truly awful, aren’t they? Yuk.

    If you’re not convinced send your camera to me for a retired photographer’s long term, open ended appraisal (40 years experience shooting film – 35mm 21/4×21/4 to 5×4 – and digital blah, blah).

    I shoot real pictures and haven’t ever taken a test shot with any equipment I have owned. I choose my equipment to suit my needs, being little influenced by such vacuous nonsense.

    Jeeze, I’m forever surpised at the human race’s stupidity.

  39. “(…) concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their came because of these results.” This is sheer lunacy – come on, you use a camera to SUPPOSEDLY shoot photos that makes you satisfied, even full of pride, with the results, and NOW after reading a technical review, you start to doubt the quality of the camera?
    Besides, if I really want a Leica, I buy a Leica not caring about test-chart shooting.
    IF I care about test-chart shooting, I buy another camera.
    It is simple.

  40. DxO tests are very relevant. But the point is something else.

    I have an old Panasonic LC1 and the files still make me smile every time I use that camera (nowadays I use the OM-D). The question we all should ask ourselves is, are we grown up enough for a Leica? Crummy in high ISO and you have to cajole the camera to work at high speeds (exactly like an LC1). It challenges you more because when you overcome the challenge and get it in the sweet spot, the reward is satisfying.

    Is the Leica good enough for me? That’s the question we should all ask ourselves.


    • My point about relevance was the to do with the timing , they are looking at 4 year old camera and comparing it to current technology .

      I agree with the rest of your words though. It’s not the best of course it’s not . But for me it is a thing of beauty to hold , i feel like i want to go out and shoot with it ,it’s small and portable , it stretches me as a photographer as I have to learn how to shoot ( rather than sticking it in fully auto ) and when it sings it sings a song like no other ..I’ll take that any day over high ISO performance and the ability to auto focus. ..but that’s just me 🙂

      • I doubt their data is wrong , I didn’t say that . I questioned the timing given the camera has been around for 4 years , what’s the point of doing it now? And I questioned the relevance of comparing it to current technology , 4 years is a lifetime in electronics…

        What would have been relevant was to review the sensor 4 years ago and see how it stacked up against other ccd full frames then.

  41. If a camera works with you and you love it then thats the camera for you. Its al a matter of TASTE and compatibility. Like a relationship…

    I love the Leica colours and IQ that one can not measure.

    I also love my OMD… For different reasons small fast and very nice looking files.

    I totally dislike the Sony RX-1 files, the sluggyness of a fuji, the dinosaur quality of any modern SLR. So i simply don’t buy these cameras and i am happy with my results. ITS THAT EASY 🙂

  42. Metrics, an accounting wet dream….. Photography is an expression of art…use your brush accordingly… I have no intention of photocopying the world.

  43. Let engineers shoots targets.

    M to a DSLR is like a laptop to a desktop. Not quite the tech but superior to work with on the move. Nothing new here.

    • Perfectly put , I have a D800 and an M9 and I have have better photos from my M9 , not because the M9 produces better files -objectively it doesn’t especially at higher ISO ( subjectively however I prefer the lower iso m9 files ) I have better photos because the camera is always with me and I have been able to capture moments I would have otherwise missed as the D800 is too heavy to lug everywhere.

      Besides why are DXO reviewing a 4 year old camera and comparing against current technology? As I said above – irrelevant.

      • Apologists for one brand or another will ALWAYS try and move the goalposts and whine if their camera of choice doesn’t get top marks.

        The reason why DXO is comparing a 4 year old camera with current cameras is firstly, many people still regard that four year old Leica as the pinnacle of photographic equipment; secondly, the aging sensor technology is still used in a camera that is in Leica’s CURRENT catalogue; fourth, many people are still using Leica’s old stuff; fifth, whether one like’s it not (and I say this as someone who cannot stand that horrid Leica M9), the Leica M is an important part of photographic history and culture; sixth, Leica stuff is insanely priced, and therefore appeals to the snob within many people who will think that buying something so expensive will get them better results, so the DXO tests are a good measure of what one actually gets for one’s money (on a purely image sensor quality level); seventh DXO are attempting to have the most comprehensive camera database there is and in so doing they often visit old cameras and run them through their testing regime (two of my old cameras are in the database, and I can compare it to today’s cameras, which i have done, and I don’t whine about the OBJECTIVE results if my camera isn’t awarded top marks).

        As for whether or not one should now sell their existing M gear, that depends. If one had deluded themselves into thinking that buying the Leica meant you were buying something superior in every respect, including sensor quality, the objective evidence provided by DXO will now divorce you of your illusion and as a result you may decide to sell up. If on the other hand you are totally happy with what you have then there is no reason to sell up because of the DXO report; or to put it another way, if you did not notice the “inferior” Leica sensor quality before then why should it matter now that DXO have published this report. Those considering their first purchase of Leica gear may well look elsewhere now that this DXO data has been published (of course that is if they aren’t also considering the new M Type 240 or new S Type 006, which are both WAY better than anything previously made by Leica in my humble opinion).


        • The fact you responded to us implies you think we are whining … I think you misread our posts , we just stated that an M and a DSLR are different so why compare?

          And in response to your points
          1.who regards the M9 as the pinnacle of photographic equipment. Our course it’s not ( just look at the burst speed ) . No one who has posted here believes that ,Pros don’t believe that , anyone who is photography knows its not the pinnacle , it has many short comings.

          2.they still used the sensor because it produced great results , or more specifically good enough results that they could continue to sell cameras . They are changing their technology now because its the right time . Those that want the ccd can buy the ME , those that want something more can by the 240 .

          3.you made no third point.

          4.i am still driving a 4 year old car , why would a car magazine review it now and then compare it to a current car ? Where’s the relevance in that.

          5.agreed , but what’s your point . In the 1970s I owned a ford Capri , some would argue its an important part of British car history and culture…what’s the relevance to reviewing to today ?

          6.why do you assume that most who buy the camera think they are getting the best ? I would say you can broadly categorize the leica consumer into two groups. Those that are into photography – these will know if they buy an m9 or ME today they are not getting the best performing camera money can buy. The second group are the trend followers/consumers of luxury goods- they may be deluded in thinking they are buying the best but they don’t really care and they will never read a DXO review. Did you know a Loius Vuitton Damier handgad is not even leather?

          7. I agree with DXO compiling a comprehensive database and applaud them . But given your argument about Leica being the pinnacle of photographic equipment , that it is important in photographic culture and history and that as a company they are pushing inferior technology why did DXO wait 4 years to review ?

          • Umm, correction. He attacked me 🙂 Comments were off so he did not get attacked, and he would have. I try to keep it as nice around here as I can, so that is why.

          • You mentioned him by name in a negative way (justifiably or not; but that’s not the question) and made sure he couldn’t react or defend himself on the same page. That’s just not fair.

          • I’ll submit a daily inspiration when I have the time to put together an interesting set, and would welcome being criticized.

  44. What’s all the fuss about? Test results of whatever origin or merit suddenly change the way you see the image quality your camera produces? That’s very immature.

    This post looks like a ploy to generate traffic on this site, and boy is it succesful.

  45. In a perfect world every camera’s sensor performance would so far exceed human beings’ perceptual abilities that all components would, indeed, produce identical pictures. But we sure aren’t there yet.

  46. people just need this kind of “leica sucks” information cause they feel very very good not needing their leica. specially for people who can’t afford it, this dxo thingy is fabulous information. they suddenly can take a deep breath, relax and shoot with their crappy cameras. most of the people actually doesn’t need leica, they can make whatever they need with what their got. but they still want it.
    dxo exist so they can say “oh yeay, leica sucks… why would i need it… of course i need best image quality although my final photograph is 1000 pixels wide, posted somewhere even on facebook… but leica just isn’t best quality so I guess I’m safe…”

    there should be (or maby they are) special reviews for mtf puzzelers and other people who thinks about native resolution of their dream cameras while making love, and special reviews for those who actually shoot some photos. not just to test cameras.
    and I really don’t understand what are these nerdy tech maniacs doing here… in this kind of practical site about shooting pictures..
    someone should indianburn them so they crawl back to their 100% dpreview and mtf madness…

    • Perhaps Leica owners should revel in the fact that even with the crappiest FF sensor around, some Leica users (sometimes) still make half-decent pictures… 🙂

    • >>> I really don’t understand what are these nerdy tech maniacs doing here

      Really? We were here 100 years before the Kodak Brownie brought photography to the less initiated. We’ve been tweaking developer formula and evaluating the sensitivity of substrata since day one. Discussing the sensor test results is something we enjoy. We don’t want to demean anyone, we don’t want to put down something that someone’s proud of but interpretation of empirical testing results has merit. Including the discussion of the testing method and its validity.

      Better tools don’t guarantee better art but they help. If they didn’t, we would all still be painting with our fingers and charcoal.

      If you don’t care about sensor capability, use a Hoga.

      (Warning: some us still like to debate film and developers)

      • correction: and I really don’t understand what are these nerdy tech maniacs doing here, in this kind of practical site about shooting pictures..
        I don’t have to use holga if i don’t care about sensor capability…
        I can just use any of my 4×5, 120 and 35mm cameras.

        but. better tools can help you make art. but you’re not gonna find out wich one is better by reading some charts or some reviews from internet…
        you’re gonna try it out.
        this site is about trying out. I very much like it for that. Science trolls looks way funny on this site.

        • Do we look funny because we believe in verifiable fact? or just because your don’t understand our reasoning?

          There are some troll worthy responses here but debating sensor capability is a worthy subject. We are not discussing art, as you can take great photos with just about anything. Only the Lieca M9’s sensor in relations to it’s contemporaries.

          Science trolls? Really, when did the pursuit of knowledge become something undesirable?

  47. Please allow me to make a couple of remarks regarding the comments here. If we consider that the sensor is analogous to the film in an analogue camera there is no issue with DXO testing the sensor sans lens, all they are trying to do and successfully I believe is determine the potential of the sensor to produce a high quality result. Take film as a comparison, imagine using say Ektar 100 with a great lens, the potential quality would be achieved, but use it with a lousy lens and the potential would not be realised.

    A cleaner higher quality file, edits better, sharpens better and enlarges better…..period!

    The Leica issue is that the potential of the brilliant lenses are limited by the so so performance of the sensor, it’s not a deal breaker but it is a verifiable scientific fact. No need to sell your Leica of course, but no need to shoot the scientists or the messenger either.

    Looking at the camera sans the Leica coloured glasses any realistic evaluation would have to come to the conclusion that for the money being asked the sensor should be at least as good as the best if not better than the best. It isn’t and that tells against the Leica as a complete package, and honestly if it were not a Leica but something more prosaic like say a Canon it would be roundly criticised for its deficits.

    None of this says the ‘M’ cannot take great pics, produce lovely image quality etc, but its potential is limited by its sensor, a poor screen and a not amazingly accurate focus system and some odd quirks like having to remove the base to change the card etc. These issues in a camera of a lesser brand would be unforgivable, especially at the price asked.

    In some ways my Sony A900 suffers sensor issues at high ISOs, it’s not a deal breaker but it does mean there are some jobs where I just can’t use it, which is a pity as it is a lovely thing to use in general. But in the end I am not going to argue the toss over its shortcomings in a scientific sense, the measurents are correct and they confirm what my experience with the camera has shown.

    Ultimately the Leica lenses are outstanding and the ‘M’ itself a lovely thing to hold so much is forgiven.

    Perhaps the new ‘M’ will solve all theses issues, I suspect it will need to as once other makers have full frame bodies that can accept m lenses it is going to get much harder to justify the cost and current limitations.

    • As I’ve said before, Leica’s weakness isn’t their optics (never has been, never will)…it’s their electronics.

      It’s why they turned to Minolta for help in the 1970s, and Panasonic to increase consumer market share in the 2000s.

      This is not a new predicament for Leica. The old Leicaflex SL and SL2 were beautifully made mechanical SLRs 35 years ago, but they lagged painfully behind the popularity and usability of Japanese SLRs during the same period period in many respects, state-of-the-art electronics being key. It’s why they turned to Minolta, who adapted the XE-7 body for them and turned it into the Leica R3.

      That situation has multiplied, because electronics are now the medium by which we capture images (not JUST the mechanism anymore).

      2004 was a wakeup call for Leica.

      And so, they have [probably wisely] chosen to leverage their heritage, and position themselves as a manufacturer of luxury products first, photographic tools second.

      I was in a Leica boutique just yesterday, and the way products are displayed in those cabinets is highly reminiscent of the way luxury clothing or watches are displayed in high end clothiers or jewelry stores. The Paul Smith Edition X2 camera aptly illustrates Leica’s approach.

      I talked with the manager of the store, and he told me that without the high volume of turnover provided by rich Asian buyers [several of whom have recently dropped $45K on equipment that they have little clue how to operate properly, I am told], Leica would never have signed off on that particular boutique’s installation.

      The company is playing to this. I’m not criticizing their approach [I actually think it’s kinda cool] — but it is what it is. Leica’s are no longer tools for working professionals. By-and-large they are being marketed as luxury status symbols for rich one-percenters [the company’s promotional materials for the Leica M didn’t even feature good photography].

      All that said, I think that the new M goes a long way to addressing the technology gulf that has plagued the company for the past 40 years. The M seems to have deftly blended what has always been great about the M-Series, with most of today’s modern tech, and kept the price point about the same as the M9.

      On the other hand, I wouldn’t fork over $5K+ for an M-E in 2013. Waste of money if you’re a serious shooter looking for a versatile tool, IMHO.

  48. One of my friends who cursed me for buying an ME forced me to read through the DXO report. I just read it and forgot it. My point is I have had various camera Nikon’s, Canon’s and I sold them all. I just have a film Nikon F3, 5D MKIII and the Leica. I could never buy a M9 so I was bidding for used ones when ME came and I got a great deal on a last piece the dealer wanted to sell quick. I always had a summicron 50mm which I wanted to use. Leica with its simplicity gives me the pleasure a spa treatment does. We all know spa’s are expensive and but, the absolute pleasure and relaxation you get out of just using the ME/M9/M8.2 is not describable. I know the M240 may be a great improvement so would be more M’s to come but, for now what I have will get me through couple of years and I would probably never need an M240. I live with F3 and still shoot it and love not to see the photo’s immediately but wait for it to be developed, I enjoy the same thrill in an ME because the LCD does not do any justice to the picture taken and I wait sometimes couple of days to download in a cool mind and leisure to enjoy what I shot. I am not a journalist nor a fashion photographer that I have to see my results immediately. So no DXO report is going to damp my love for leica ME.

  49. It isn’t just the data output, it is also what the software does with the data.

    Quit worrying and go out and snap some pictures.

    • The question they should have asked a while back is whether they should have bought an M9. I did and for me it was a resounding no for the reasons already stated. 🙂

  50. Steve, just because YOU get flat pics from Fuji doesn’t mean that the m9 is better. I see lots of emotional fanboys who are having a hard time justify science….

    • Thats the issue. “Science” has nothing..nothing to do with taking or capturing photo nor the quality of the photos your own eyes see. This has been proven time and time again and I have said this about DXO for many years now. Photos are not made up of numbers. Memories are not made up of “science”. The funny thing is that with their findings they kind of look irrelevant as the thousands of amazing M9 samples that have been online for years show the opposite of what they say.

      As for the Fuji, 98% of pics I see from the Fuji X Trans sensor are flat and dull, I was not talking about ME. It is not just me who sees this either 🙂 Usually the “Fuji” fanboys don’t see it because they really have nothing else to compare it to.

      I love fuji color for the most part but these newest sensors fall a bit flat when even compared to the X100 sensor.

      • Let’s not confuse creating art with technical performance of a sensor.

        Many things go into a great picture: Sensor, the cameras internal software and logic in reading the data, lens, and of most important, the photographer.

        But when all else is equal, numbers and stats do mater. DXO has attempted to remove the variables and show pure sensor performance. Again, this is not always the best indicator in judging a system but it should be accurate to compare sensors and their potentials.

        If you pay a lot for the best, you would hope it would compare well with other products in the market. As far as sensor design and capability, it is science! You can create amazing art regardless.

        … BTW, there are a number of good X-E1 images on your site.


        • As far as great pictures or art are concerned, how many award winning photos have been shot with a M8, M9 or MM as compared to other digital camera makes? It`s a rethoric question as we all know Leica would not look good in such a statistic.
          I continue to enjoy my M9, but let`s face it Leica starts to look excessively overpriced with all the sensor and camera electronics progress made by other manufacturers and I`m afraid the gap will continue to widen as company`s like Sony have just started to push snesor boundaries. In two years from now the M sensor`s output will rank among “and other FF cameras” at best. Leica can not compete on its own in the electronics race.

          • You make some good points. Leica pays it’s rent on perception. The legend of Leica rightfully rests with it’s lenses. Much of it’s electronic development is done by Jenoptik, a German company. http://www.jenoptik.com/7355CDD8919D5E14C125775E003108CA Many people believe that you get what you pay for. They put Leica on a pedestal and it becomes a sort of religious faith. It’s not that the emperor has no cloths, but that the emperor is merely half naked. The one thing “divine” about Leica is their lenses. Everything else is merely “mortal”. They’ve spent decades without competition and now that competition exists, they still act like nothing has changed. The time is coming, when if Leica still acts like it has it’s head in the sand, it’s all going to unravel.

        • Steve, 98% of the photos you see taken from the Fuji X system are flat and dull? Exactly who’s photos are you looking at? I think Zack Arias might take offense to the comment, and rightfully so. I do like your site for the most part, but that is an asinine statement. I don’t mean to offend you, but I see more good photos on Zack’s blog then I do on this one. Heck, all you have to do is spend 5 mins browsing Flickr to find tons of great photos taken with Fuji’s.

          That sensor produces outstanding color, wonderful sharpness, has great dynamic range, and beats any Leica at high ISO. I’m not sure what more you can ask out of a camera sensor. Beyond that, it just comes down to the lens. If you don’t like Fuji lenses, that is a fair opinion, but the obvious solution to that issue is to just mount your Leica glass with Fuji’s adapter. Just imagine usine your Leica glass on their rumored upcoming full frame camera with their new split image focusing’s system. That should be an amazing setup for half the cost of a Leica M.

          For the record, 6 Months ago I traded in my XPro-1 for the OM-D, in part due to the praise this site lumped on the Olympus. I felt as though I was missing out on something. Let’s just say that was the biggest mistake I’ve made in a long time. I simply don’t understand how you can enjoy the output the OM-D produces while disliking what Fuji is doing with their X system.

          • The OM-D is an amazing tool and for me beats the Fuji hands down all the way around the block for usability. The AF on the Fujis are not up to snuff for todays AF cameras. The OM-D is just about instantaneous. If you bought an OM-D did you buy any of the primes? If not then you missed out as they are what make the system. The Fuji does one thing well. It can create color POP and look nice but the files fall flat. I have worked with EVERY camera on the market that is worth using and the one I enjoyed teh least of 2012 was the X-Pro 1 as it gave me nothing but missed shots, odd exposures, off color WB many times and slow operation. The new X100s is about 3X faster than the X-Pro 1 in operation..all aspects.

            I’ve always loved Fuji but for ME ME ME they fell short with the X bodies when compared to others. The OM-D can take gorgeous photos and at the same time give superb usability, speed and trouble free operation. Exposures are spot on, AWB is fantastic, AF speed is lightning fast, video is superb, files are hardy etc etc. It does lose to Fuji at HIGH ISO but for me, that is the only area. (again, when using the Oly and Panasonic Primes)

            Here is a great look at what the OM-D can do…


            But at the end of the day, what I like you may hate and what you like I may hate. I have said for years it is ALL personal preference and I state my personal opinions after using all of this camera gear. When a camera frustrates me time after time for more than one reason it does not stay around long. If we all loved the same things in life it would be a boring world 🙂

          • Yep, there is no one perfect camera for everyone. On that we agree. I’ve owned various m4/3’s cameras since their inception. I’ve used almost every prime they have. Some I’ve liked (the Olympus 12mm), others I’ve hated (the Panasonic 20mm is extremely frustrating on the OMD), but all in all, none have matched what I got with the Fuji 35mm/1.4. I absolutely loved that lens, and I eagerly await the results upcoming 23mm/1.4, 27mm/2.8 pancake, and especially the 58mm/1.4.

            Not to go off on too much of a tangent here, but, lenses aside, I’ve simply found the ergonomics on the OM-D too be quite poor as well. IMO, on small cameras, the view finder simply needs to be in the top left corner. That allows more space off to the right for your hand. I’m constantly frustrated about the lack of space for my hand when using the OM-D (and my hands are at best average size).

            I’m trying my best to resist the temptation to switch back to Fuji since I know the NEX-9 will be here soon (as well as a possible Fuji full frame); but the release of the X100s is tough to ignore.

          • Steve, You can criticize the Fuji for AF with a straight face, and yet the M cameras don’t even have AF. You need to come out of the Leica closet and admit you’re miffed at Fuji for, among other things, Fuji is challenging Leica’s hegemony and offers a lot more bang for the buck. Fuji is ambitious and continually refining. In short time it will become easier for the masses to see behind the curtain. When they’ve got all bases covered. Checkmate. Leica has been stuck in the past and hasn’t challenged themselves, so it’s hard to fail at something when you don’t even try. Straight up X100 v X2 even at same $$, don’t have to think long to turn to the Fuji. When they offer dedicated lenses with mechanical focus override and the focus aids, along with faster focus for the less skilled, then it LEITZ OUT!!!

          • I can manually focus the M faster than I can get a reliable AF lock on the Fuji in low or dim lighting. Fact. The M is made and optimized to be MF, the Fuji is made and optimized to be AF. Totally different. My face is straight as can be right now. Also, in my ooinion the Fuji is not even w art on a Leica M9 let alone the new M. If it was I would own one. Other cameras get closer, like the OM-D, RX1, etc. Which is why I own them. I am hoping the X100s stays X100 like and does not go the way of the X bodies but so far the X100s is amazing in AF, maybe 4X faster than the “PRO” body from Fuji.

          • Seriously, Steve… try the new zoom on an XE-1. It seems to focus as fast as the 17mm pany on the OMD. (no speed demon by any means of course) and the 35 can make a picture pop with the best of them at f/1.4…

            I love your site here and really appreciate what you do… but let me just say it… you are losing a little bit of creditably with the Fuji. No, that’s not correct. I value you’re opinion highly but maybe you didn’t have a good initial experience with the early XPro.

            It’s not fanboy -dom, I have them all and a stable of great glass. I love the OMD but in no way would I think it compared to the Fuji in image quality. Sure, it can take a great image but it would struggle to match the potential of the Fuji. You must have tested a defective body. Defiantly try it again.

            It took them a year to finally get the X100 half-corrected with it’s focus issues. They have the XE-1 close now with the last update. It is more accurate (speed is still the same) in low light.

            There are cameras I do not like either for a variety of reasons. Actually, that’s not true, I like them all! but I felt like I wasted a lot of money on the X100 at first. Yes it was slow, yes I missed important shots, YES it took amazing images if the focus didn’t ignore the huge subject centered behind the focus point but locked on the nearly invisible leaf a mile away… and yes, I basically told people to stay away from it as well… but they did fix it.

            Again, try the XE-1 once more if you have the opportunity.

          • Ive tried the zoom on the Fuji but honestly, I do not like zooms. I like fast primes and the Fuji’s just do not do well with Af speed or accuracy with the 35 1.4. Period. Ive tried the X-E1 twice, the pro-1 three times. The X-E1 with the latest FW. Still not impressed with the usability. If I never tried other cameras I would have loved it I am sure, but when comparing to what else is out there I decided to not deal with the frustrations. Credibility? I say what I feel 100% of the time, honest with my experiences. If someone feels slighted by that then so be it, nothing I can do. Always have been like this and have had people question me since day one over 4 years ago. I will not lie and be merry about a product that I do not enjoy using. I will state why I do not enjoy using it, and in the case of the X bodies, I have tried many times. The X100s is a MUCH MUCH MUCH more usable camera than either of the X bodies. Sorry but that is a fact.

      • “As for the Fuji, 98% of pics I see from the Fuji X Trans sensor are flat and dull”

        Oh, there’s the flame-war-inciting, click-traffic-driving, item-of-the-minute-promoting Huff rearing his head again, this time so much less inconspicuous.

        how does “pop with detail and sharpness” one day suddenly turn into “flat and dull” the next

        “…if image quality is your #1 priority, then the X-Pro 1 may just be worth the $1699 body only cost as the IQ is SUPERB for a crop sensor APS-C camera. Probably some of the best IQ I have seen from any mirrorless to date…the images that come from this sensor pop with detail and sharpness. Add to that the Fuji colors and you have a fantastic camera for image quality.”

        now the interblogosphere is going to be popping with backlinks to this website

        • Thanks for reminding us. I looked the article up after your posting. So true. And so sad when you think about it, don’t you think? It means we’re being fooled by “the professional”.

        • I love the site Steve and I am one who lives by much of your real world reviews. I would like to see you respond to the comment above regarding your previous quotes on the Fuji X-Pro. That’s a pretty strong statement about 98% of the files being flat and would be contradictory to your previous statement. Is that true. I’m sure there is a reasonable explanation.


          • The Fuji X-Pro 1, when compared side by side with something like an RX1, Fuji X100 (original), Leica M9, Leica M the files can be kind of dull at lower ISO in normal light. Ive always said I prefer the X100 files to the X bodies and I have never been a huge fan of the sensors in the X-Pro 1/X-E1. Sure they can take a nice image, any camera today can. But it is when you carefully compare files that you start to notice weaknesses of each camera. I just state my experience as it goes on and on. You can even see the flatter look in my X-Pro 1 review files when compared to those in my RX1, Leica M or even Fuji X100 review. I also am not saying they cant have 3D pop, because they can. I am talking about the overall look of the files. Some will know what I mean but if you own and shoot an X body and love it then that is all you need right there. Like I said, any camera made today over $500 can take amazing quality shots.

          • Thanks. I’ll go back and look at the files. I was leaning towards an X-E1 personally. It will all come down to the feel of the camera, since from what I can’t tell, it produces nice looking files. Ultimately I think you are right – though we rely on bloggers like you to review and tell us about your experiences, its our decision. I gotta say though, I’ve purchased and later sold many a cameras largely due to my reading experience here. Looking to make better choices on my needs and less because of what others are saying.

            Good Luck Steve

      • Given that you review cameras and lenses and put them through controlled testing, I cannot for the life of me understand how you can claim that ““Science” has nothing..nothing to do with taking or capturing photo nor the quality of the photos your own eyes see”.

        That is a patently absurd statement to make, and I am afraid may in the eyes of many diminish your credibility.

        Are you seriously suggesting that shutter speed, aperture, ISO, dynamic range, colour accuracy, lens sharpness, camera shake, shutter slap etc etc are not issue of science that impact on an image’s quality?

        I have to say I am amazed!! Shocked in fact.

        • Yes, “SCIENCE” has nothing to do with capturing an image…capturing emotion..capturing a moment. I am shocked that you think it does. And I am not a scientific reviewer at all..never have been, never will be.

          • The physics of light and the way a sensor interacts with photons does play a role in capturing an image. In fact it’s essential. There is a human artistic component to photography and a technical component that involves physics. I love your site Steve but you are in error with the above statement. To error is to be human so I will gladly overlook the statement and continue to enjoy your site. 🙂

          • I understand what he means, “science” has nothing to do with capturing a moment, taking a great image can be accomplished with a Leica S2 or a Diana with a plastic lens and cheap film.

        • Pictures or Photos are an art form, sharpness of the picture, Dynamic Range, ISO, I do not see how does it really matter. Art is what the human brain can see,and visualize not the science? I am a PhD in Electronics but that does not help me understand many art forms. Physics can explain and master the way the electrons will fall on the sensor and get manipulated but, what the picture sends to brain will vary with every individual. Steve is RIGHT, in saying SCIENCE has absolutely nothing to do with capturing image, that is not a scientific statement but an Artist statement.

      • I think it’s good that people think critically about scientific tests. But I don’t see why your subjective evaluation using vague terms like “flat” and “dull” has more credential.

        I know that raw sensor performance doesn’t tell the whole story about image quality, but that it means NOTHING is a really bold statement, which I don’t buy. Just because you’ve seen “amazing” samples from the M9 doesn’t prove anything.

  51. The results are definitely hitting a nerve. Guess its time to state my opinion on this. I shoot everything and all types of cameras. From OM-1 to Leica M3 to Fuji X100 to Nikon D600. I also have two fuji MFT cameras along with an Sony RX100. I love the M3. Coupled with Summicron 50mm it takes wonderful photos. When the M3 came out there was nothing close to it. All the adjectives that are still used today to describe an M9 really apply to the M3 when described in the era that the M3 came out. As for the M9, I really believe its an overrated camera (regardless of DXO testing). I took a close look a while back because I was thinking of buying it. After some time I decided not to for several reasons. Almost all decent cameras above $500 take good photos when light isn’t a problem and that includes the M9. Yet in low light the M9 is simply not a good camera and the ISO above 800 is almost useless. I understand people on this site will defend a 7k purchase buy stating things that have been stated in nausea. Its discrete…so are many other cameras. The build quality…there are many cameras that are built well. Leica glass….what about fuji glass or zeiss lens…not to mention Nikon, etc. The bulkiness of an SLR…well I gotta say. You mount a 50mm lens on a D600 and its not that much heavier then my M3. When I decide if I will shoot with a D600 or M3 weight is never a consideration. All this is to say that the results don’t surprise me. The M9 & M are overpriced cameras. This is crazy but you can pick up a D600, fuji X100, Sony RX1 & RX100 for the price of an M. And you still need a lens. As far as I’m concerned Leica has pulled the wool over many people’s eyes with the M9. A German made camera which is partially made in Spain using a Kodak sensor. Paying Ferrari prices yet the performance isn’t there. In the end the biggest factor to taking good photos is the photographer. I have taken a few good photos with every camera and I have and my share of trashy ones. Having an M9 would not make me a better photographer. If I did purchase one I would have to justify it with flowery abstract terms like passion, discreetness, etc because the purchase could not be justified otherwise. Enjoy the M9 or M just don’t believe you have something superior cause its simply not the case.

      • Me too !
        I wasnt looking for the qulity my D800 does a good job , but owning an M9 is something else i love this camera very much

      • I sincerely hope it does. They are fun to shoot. Nevertheless they are overpriced & overrated. Leica is living off the past and hasn’t brought innovation into the market for many years. IMO the M9 without the Leica name is a $1500 camera at most.

      • You’re actually proving their point when you say it makes you happy. It’s primarily an emotional decision. Many believe that the Leicas are inherently superior and there is no equal. If you know what you are getting, the good, the bad and the ugly and are happy with that, then it’s a good thing. At least then, you weren’t swayed by slick marketing.

        • Those who put value on the objective measurement of a sensor should not be dismissed as Leica haters or science geeks. I am neither. The limitations of a sensor like subpar film plays a role in IQ. What the DXO review showed is the quantitative shortcoming of the sensor. This should not have been a surprise to anyone. What is personally surprising to me is the degree of deficiency. When coupled with the price of an M9 and the investment one makes in the lenses it is a bit of a disappointment. When I shoot with my M3 I shoot with the best film available because I want to take full advantage of the Leica lens. If you shoot with subpar film the results will suffer. The same logic holds with a subpar sensor. I want Leica to succeed. To me it’s about demanding more from a company that asks you to pony up a substantial amount when compared to other camera makers.

  52. Im just gonna go travel the coast of US-1 with my Leica M8.2 while DXO mark shoots rulers and cats in coal mines. Moving on….. Nothing to see here

  53. I have an OMD with a full complement of glass. Its photos are glassy and clinically sharp with great color and unique to certain situations. It is the Doctor of the family.

    I also use a Canon MKII with old Olympus OM glass ( all the F2 lenses). It too is unique and applies in certain situations that would benefit from full frame tonality and to certain moods that are best serviced with that arrangement. This one is the Entrepreneur.

    My Sigma SD15 never ceases to entertain me with distinct photos despite its simple IQ. In fact, each set produces photos with a distinct personality. In the family cabinet this one is the Artist.

    To love one more that another would be like loving one child more than another.

    All that said, my favorite color photos I have taken with my M9 and 50 Summilux. My favorite B&W have been shot with the M9 and a 35 Summilux FLE. It is my favorite son. It doesn’t always do everything perfectly but it does it with flare and vivacity. Besides its just simply the most fun to be with.

  54. My personal and only concern with the DXO Mark report is that Leica, as a producer of high level engineering and quality photography machines is failing my expectation as a consumer, for as much I fancy the spirit behind the brand and the process of using my Leica, I also fancy my hard earned money and I personally find these results not acceptable. I bought into the principle of unparalleled quality and now I read from a site that my equipment is sub-par. Regardless of what DXO does to test or measure quality my Leica should have outperformed any full frame sensor, or at least share a close spot. Please excuse the effusive rant, however this just feels like when my home value went down like a rock due to the banks fault.

    • Rosendo, this is coming from a friendly place. Do your images look worse to you now having read the DXO results?

      • @Jeff

        Perhaps Rosendo will wonder if better images might have been captured with a better sensor than what Leica provided. And at a premium.

        • @takashi

          He might even pass the camera with the better sensor off to you so as to guarantee the best of images with said better sensor. Hoping you’re services are cheap of course.

      • Hi Jeff,

        No, I still love the output and magic in each frame, but now I wonder how much better these would look, or how much more data could I be pulling from these files would the sensor be 30% better. It just makes me think how wonderful my summicron lens really is.

        • Makes total sense Rosendo. I just wondered. I’ve owned cameras with far better ratings, but I never liked the files as much. This stuff is all subjective in the end, but I think everyone needs to follow their eyes more then a computers numbers.

        • Rosendo,

          I wouldn’t worry about your Summicron. The lenses are assuredly the best part of the Leica system. It’s the other parts that are being called into question.

  55. It blows my mind how many people are fixated on numbers. Noise this and high iso that. People, buy the damn camera you want to use. Don’t piss and complain. Every troll that posts negatively in here reads as jealous. Truly sad. My D3 still takes better natural light portraits then a D4 or D800 and the thing is 6 years old. Use what you have, don’t like it, buy something else.

  56. Maybe it has the worst results, but you still get superior images with Leica glass, you know you are carrying a proper camera with ‘old school’ build quality, feel and handling. I’ve moved away from DSLRs purely from the weight and bulkiness. Trouble with a DSLR is that the very fact of raising the camera to your eye causes your subject to become very stiff and very often self-conscious. Rangefinders don’t.
    The sensor differences can be equated to using different types of film, could they not? It’s getting to the point of nit-picking, as long as you produce great images, but saying that I wouldn’t go back to the Box Brownie these days CMOS has a different image ‘feel’ to CCD.

    • I agree about the glass. The problem with digital cameras is we’ve been waiting for sensor technology to catch up with the best the glass has to offer. I’d say that only in the last year have the best sensors matched the resolving power of the best lenses and the dynamic range of the best film.

      IMO, we’re heading into an exciting time in digital photography where all the pieces are coming together to give photographers really great cameras that open up new creative opportunities that we’ve never had before.

  57. I’m not at all surprised by the test results. I’ve never cared for the look produced by the M9. It has always appeared too harsh, bordering on garish to me. I’ll take M8 any day over the M9, despite the fact that the M8 lacks a built-in IR filter and has lousy high-ISO performance. Within its limitations it just looks better to me.

    In any case, from what I’ve seen so far the M Type 240 appears to be a gigantic leap forward for Leica. I’m seriously tempted to smash the piggy bank for one.

  58. Sometimes, one must trust their eyes…Statistics can be spun to lie…DXO clearly uses a methodology that doesn’t favor the M9 sensor, but my eyes continue to enjoy the M IQ better than most (all?) cameras out there….sure there, are deficiencies, but sharp, realistic images with solid colors do the trick for me…

    • Great comment, you know the old saying don’t you about statistics? You have lies, damn lies and statistics.

    • Yes, trust your eyes. Diego Velasquez was much smoother than Manet…Manet should have snapped his brushes in half and took up blacksmithing…Not! Trust what you see not what someone tells you you are seeing.

    • Gotta agree with you here Ashwin. I’ve seen some beautiful images from the M9 that were just so crisp and bold straight from the camera. I don’t think DXO tells us anything we didn’t already know – the M9 doesn’t have the high ISO performance of a Nikon D800 (gasp!), nor does it have the dynamic range to push the shadows 5 stops. For me this never mattered. When I was shooting with an M9, shooting was a slower more deliberate process – both in composition as well as nailing the exposure. It could be a bit unforgiving at times, but very spectacular photos in the end.

    • Most modern cameras these days produce beautiful images. With an M9 body you have 7000 reasons to like what you see. It’s human nature. If you know somebody in marketing, just ask them. When you buy with your emotions, you’re more likely to be happy with your purchase, all the more so as the purchase price goes up. Marketing 101.

  59. I must say lots of emotion here. I owned an M9 and i currently own an M8 and love it ! Both are better
    than the fuji xe1 which i bought and put away cause the M8 rocks it So i must say if these sensor reviews are the worst ever then its probably that bad sensor with the best glass made that gives us our beloved expensive lomo cameras ever made and I’m hooked. Try one you’ll like it

    • I would have loved to got hold of a used M8.2. I’m afraid, though, that it would break down and I’d be stranded with a broken camera and one expensive lens.

      However, if I was to get a M8 or M9 which lens would you recommend? I would most likely only be able to afford one lens (and not one of the sub f/2 lenses). For allround I guess a 50mm would be best?

  60. Ok so DxO doesn’t like the sensor performance in the M9. And so what? I love my M9. It has limitations, like any tool, but I am comfortable with what it doesn’t do well such as high iso and enjoy what it does well, such as having a look and feel and usability like nothing else. Yes I have ordered an M240 because I hope it addresses some gaps without compromising the good. I expect it will. Mathematical test are valuable o ly in the context of overall user satisfaction. Many Leica M9 users are very happy. Others prefer something else. If its right for you, it’s right for you.

    DxO has of late appeared to be as focused on link baiting as what they do well. To each their own, but I am under no obligation to agree or even listen if I choose not to.

  61. These tests are meaningless, especially when considering that, at this point, Leica’s target audience is for the most part wealthy amateurs who post pictures on social media, photo sharing sites, etc. That is the honest truth. How many people here are using their M9 to create, let’s say, digital negatives to make platinum prints, or positives for photogravure? Or, how many M9 users have invested even in a pro printer with Piezography carbon inks? Raise your hands. Most people’s images these days reside on a hard drive and are viewed on a screen, which most of the time is an non calibrated crappy one.

  62. Sensors have reached a stage that it’s a simple case of counting data as image IQ is more than acceptable. I’d prefer an ergonomic camera with a great viewfinder and an average sensor than a million buttons in a huge package.

  63. To me, the Dx0 sensor rating is just one of *many* specs. of a camera – it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story.

    That said, gone are the days when owners of beautiful Leica glass have to mount it on body that has a red-dot on it – the Sony NEX-7 or upcoming 7n may now be a better choice for some people.

    Hopefully Leica takes the Dx0 result constructively, and ‘ups their game’ with future sensor designs.

    • 50/50 rule:

      Wow thanks DXO for the honesty. I was just about to buy the Leica ME until I saw how bad the benchmark sensor tests were. Why buy this Leica M9, when I can buy the Nikon D800 for 1/2 the price, but with 50% better benchmark tests!!! 50% better performance for 50% of the price.

      • I’m sure the photos you take out of the D800 will be just as bad as they would have been out of the M9.

          • @takashi, not at all. I just love when people post nonsense like that. I could careless what anyone shoots with. Is the M9 the pinnacle of camera engineering? Nope. Do people love it? Sure. If you’re familiar with his work, I’d love to see it! Maybe I’ll even put my foot in my mouth =)

          • Why don’t you. What’s wrong with people wanting the best technical performance from their camera?

        • Even if they were both “just as bad”, you would have saved $4,000 by buying the Nikon. But this is given that they are same image quality. They are NOT the same quality, the Leica only scores 69, while the Nikon D800 scores a whopping 95!!! That’s like a 10 year difference in technological advancement.

          • You are a believer in the equipment that makes the photographer. That’s fine. Enjoy your D800 as many others have. I use a D3S, D4, H3D 22 as well as an M9. If I wanted to study brick walls and rulers all day I’d have picked up a D800. Since I don’t and I get paid to shoot for a living, I’d take the M9 over every camera I just listed for 95% of my work. For ‘MY” purpose as well as many here, any M will allow one to do things even a gripless D800 won’t provide. As has been hinted at throughout the comments, Iit’s not all about the sensor when it comes to photos. It’s your money dude, follow the herd =)

          • Your argument makes no sense, when you suggest that the person to whom you are responding is a “believer in the equipment makes the photographer”. Why?

            Because ALL of the cameras you have listed as being equipment that you use are top of the pile products (if not now, certainly when they were produced). So do I take it you bought, or used them because they were rubbish?

            Equipment does make a VAST difference to the results one can achieve whether that be in ease of production or quality of production and that goes for photography as much as it does for carpentry, mechanics, motorsports or any other endeavor.

          • Not sure what you’re trying to say but… its not working.

            Photographer gets “better” tool and lower price.

            Other than his recognition of basic math and value, what does this have to do with his skills?

          • The point is perfectly clear. He suggests that someone is of the “equipment makes the photographer” camp yet he uses top draw equipment. So it seems to me that he too thought the equipment might make a difference.

  64. The test tells us that, by certain measures, the M9 isn’t great in low light/high ISO. So what. I think we knew that. It is good at what it’s good at.

  65. The timing of the report is interesting to me .
    I wonder when we will see their report on the M240?

    I just know when I process my images I am still more than happy with my M9.

  66. Who gives a crap what DXO has to say. I think the results I get with my digital M speak for themselves.

    You know, there are a lot of film purists who scoff when you tell them you enjoy shooting with 35mm. In a sense they aren’t wrong. 35mm is small and doesn’t have the same depth that a medium format negative or a sheet film negative may have. But again, so what? There are other advantages such as smaller cameras and lenses that tend to be faster for lower light situation.

    This is no different.

    I bought my digital M long past the time when it was cutting edge in the digital world. I bought it knowing full well that the LCD resolution is far behind the times and the high ISO performance lags against the competition. But I don’t care. I’m tired of the technology rat race. The lenses on my Leica M have been good enough for great results for the last 50 years and more than likely another five decades into the future.

    Use the cameras that work for you folks. Ignore the resolution tests and the pixel peeping. Camera manufacturers want you to fixate on that so they can sell you a new camera every year or two but really it doesn’t matter. Just take pictures…you’ll be happier for it.

  67. “Because of this report I have had maybe 30 e-mails from concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their camera because of these results.”

    An absolutely hilarious comment! Love it!!!

    Whoever is emailing you asking if they should sell their camera because of the results should sell their camera immediately. If they need to ask that question then they are probably better off with a point and shoot camera or maybe their mobile phone as they don’t know a thing about photography.

    Maybe you could email them back Steve and tell them to sell their Leica kit and use the money to book themselves on a fine art course at night school and a day course in Photography for beginners.

    They’d be better off spending 5k on photo books and $300.00 on an old beater of a camera.

    12 months from now they’d be better photographers for it and less likely to send you stupid emails.

    All said and done, the funniest thing that I’ve read on your blog for a long time.

    Keep up the good work Steve.

  68. Doesn’t that make us Leica owners proud?

    We are using the worst cameras and yet able to make images that we are happy with, plus having an enjoyable user experience that no SLR can compete with.

    I use a secondhand M8.2, which is ‘worser’ than most of your M9s, but I still much prefer my Leica and a couple of tiny lenses for travelling, than lugging around any SLR system.

    At the end of the day, judging a camera system just on IQ really misses the point, particularly for Leica; it is like judging how good a dish is by how finely chopped the ingredients are, without regards to the taste, balance, texture and presentation of the dish.

    Be brave to be different, and be humble to be wise.


  69. For a reality check some might want to read what Erwin Puts (The Tao of Leica) has to say about the new M and the “old” M9. Fascinating reading.

  70. THis is all quite strange to me. A sensor test that does not examine resolution? Perhaps because resolution depends on the quality of the lens. This never made sense to me. Nor does the over-emphasis on high ISO. All my Leica lenses are Lux’s, f1.4 so that I could use them in low light at relatively low ISO, 800 and below. Rarely have I ever needed to go higher than that. So, it makes no technical sense to text any camera without the lenses for which it was designed. Now, the M9 Kodak sensor. No one thought that it would be possible to engineer a sensor that could adjust for the problem with the angle at which light hits the sensor plane (not perpendicular) through lenses designed for Leica film cameras. Kodak eventually solved that problem apparently by changing the distances between the pixels as you move towards the outer edge to compensate for the incorrect angle. Otherwise no Leica digital camera ever. When first tested with actual Leica lenses the print image quality was compared to medium format film cameras. No one ever complained about the quality of the prints and the camera was a huge commercial success. Now we have a test of just the sensor by itself? With technical criteria that are biased towards sensors designed for live view videos and inferior lenses? They were correct in the first place when they obviously decided not to apply tests to the M9 sensor that were clearly inappropriate. So why now? No one who uses M9s to makes enlarged prints will pay any attention. So, here’s the rub: Most people using modern digital cameras have no intention of making any prints at all. They just want an automated, any light jpg file to Instagram to their friends on the web. They will not be using a D800 for this either no matter how high it’s sensor scores on these tests. So, back to square one: Why wouldn’t anyone want a camera like the M9 that can produce digital images that can be used to make prints that rival medium format print cameras? Those who cannot afford it and are looking for a cheaper alternative. There are now lots out there for them to choose from.

  71. I shoot film and frankly anything over 400 and the grain is a big part of the image. With film you don’t get clean images, even at 100. I know the argument that film grain is different to digital noise but it depends. I have got some shocking results back from labs on C-41 color at 800 (especially in artificial light). I went the other day to test a M9 and shot it at 2000 (not to check noise but to check calibration). Frankly, coming from the film world, I was really blown away and this was under (poor) artificial light too.

    Here is the picture: M9, 50mm Lux ASPH @ ISO2000 and at 1.4


  72. DxOh No. I personally disregard ANYTHING that this outfit has to say about ANYTHING. Anyone who is inteligent and who has a passion for creating images with incredible image-makinging equipment should do themselves a favor and disregard them as well.
    And ..mind you…I don’t even own a Leica!

  73. Tests deliver numbers, camera’s deliver pictures. I don’t want to know what a similar test would say about my Sigma DP1s. I do know that every time i use it, taking in acount the weak points, the results i see are astonishing. And if some one else compares them with the pictures taken with my dslr or those taken by my friends with other brand dslrs, the Sigma ones are a different class. No test can proof that, but i love that feeling!

  74. I think this is a good teaching moment: Don’t pay any attention to minor differences. Anyone might be disappointed who shops for cameras based on statistics rather than the look of the photos, and the feel of the camera.

  75. All the comments above are interesting, but more or less miss the most salient point. DxO is wrong.

    The testing methodology, the interpretation algorithms, the scientific electroptical principles underlying and validating their tests are sufficiently flawed that comparison of one set of results to another is meaningless. With these results the scientific testing employed does not meet the most significant criterion for calling these tests scientific proof: reproducibility. That is, correspondence with another test’s well accepted IQ results, in this case reality. Would anybody claim that Leica digital M’s produce the worst image quality results ever?

    DxO’s hypothesis is that their cumulative results present a scientifically valid paradigm for ranking a sensor’s “quality” along a spectrum from best to worst and is meaningful. Not to be too pedantic, but the scientific method relies on the creation of an hypothesis and testing that hypothesis against all of the greatest challenges that circumscribe the paradigm.

    So DxO’s hypothesis is either totally wrong or is so flawed that it cannot be relied upon to predict performance across the complete spectrum of “this sensor is the best/worst” of all sensors of similar architecture, and doesn’t even predict the superiority of one sensor architecture against another.

    If the test results don’t conform to reality then the methodology employed is wrong in some way or another. Seeing these results undermines the validity of all results from this methodology, raising the question of what good is it? I really don’t know.

    If interested, TrueSense (formerly Kodak Imaging) has a number of relevant white papers of the physics and electrical issues in the development of imaging sensors. And Thomas Kuhn’s books lay out the basis for the scientific method.

    • I don’t know how valid the tests are, but this is response abuses the scientific method. Reproducibility means that another person conducting the same test is able to get the same results. If others using the dXo tests kept coming up with different results the initial tests would be thrown into doubt as not being reproducible. Subjective measures of image quality are another thing altogether. They do not invalidate the dXo results.

      I’m not bothered by this at all. It’s an aging CCD sensor in a world of CMOS sensors that are less noisy, especially at higher ISO levels. No one with any sense would claim that an M9 is ideal for action or a lot of other things a modern pro dslr is expected to do. Thy’re exceptional specialty tools, with amazing glass.

  76. If your happy with your new Leica who cares about some test..? Or a review…

    The fact is this is the first generation full frame Video from Leica with a new sensor..

    So I didnt think it was going to be all that…

    Very few first gernerations of anything are..

    It takes time to evolve in design..

    The fact that Leica is at least in the game, is huge keap forward..

    At least in my books.

    The fact is the sensor is but “one link” in the image chain.

    As other’s have noted The camera lens, the focus.. the exposer, the post processing screen calibration The technique and skill of the man/women behind the camera.. ..oo

    Far out weight any aspect of any perceived..superior lens performance..

    One can argue that Leica glass is better than Nikon’s/Canon’s But having used much of all three..

    Lets just say the point is arguable..

    I am excited for Leica and the people that get to use this camera…

    Will be the final say of just how good.. “IT” Is..



    As far as I am concerned… The difference are completly suggestive.. and open to what you prefer….

    All have a link to the final image..

    The thing is about chains.. Is that if even one link is week the whole “Image Chain” , can be broken.

    Not sure if this is the case with this new offering from Leica..

    But I suspect that many, many fine images/video will be made with this camera.

    To me test like this need to be looked at very, very closely.

    Kind of like statistics can hide/say anything with the right amount of spin..

  77. If these results were to have been published about the, lets say the OM-D, I bet many would be confirming what they think would have been obvious given it’s little sensor, etc.

    Giving its the M9, and many start dismissing the results and defending the Leica as its the ‘system’ as a whole. Of course the system is important. The feel, the character,even the commitment to the investment motivates us to shoot more!

    But you can’t dismiss these results. You can stick a Lux or Cron on a XE-1, and just about always get superior performance, especially at high ISO if needed. The lenses are great, the cameras unique, the sensors are mediocre when compared to the best on the market.

    And of course they can take great photos. So can a 7 year old Canon 5D mk1 but the 5D mk3 still has a superior sensor. Technical quality does not equal art but we would still like to have the best we can get for the cost.

    Does it matter? For most owners, No. But I would be a little embarrassed if I was Leica.

    Of course, Leica may attempting to join the Lomo crowd? Sorry. Just a joke…

    • Sorry but a Lux on an X-E1 is not superior, at all. The X-E1 sensor is good at high ISO but falls flat in good light..and when I say falls flat, I mean “flat”. Ive not seen ANY Fuji files that beat an M9 file to date and I am talking about looking at and enjoying the photo as well as the quality of the photo. In fact, the X100s loses a little bit of soul from the X100 due to going to X-Trans. It gains “on paper and by the numbers performance” but in reality, in the photos…the X100 has a little more mojo. You can not judge image quality with numbers, just not possible.

      • While I totally agree that the M9 produces better image quality than the X-E1 After using the X100s for just over a week and having used the X100 for the best part of 18 months I can say without doubt that the X100s is a huge improvement over the X100 with regards to image quality, that dreamy look you could sometime get with the X100 is still there is the X100s, that’s the lens and not the sensor, I would also say that neither the in-camera jpeg engine or LR4.4 are doing that greater job of handling the sensor but I’m sure with updates this will soon be corrected.

        The X-E1 / X-Pro1 have cropped sensors and don’t match the IQ of a full frame sensor no matter how much people might want them to.

        • I shoot a number of cameras Full and Cropped. I have never liked cropped sensors as much as FF sensors but… I loved the OM-D for the great Olympus lenses and it’s functionality and speed…

          …But my two Fuji APC cameras hold their own against most current FF sensors with a AA filter.

          I believe Mr. Huff here has even championed the Sony 7 NEX with Leica glass from time to time and it has a slight AA filter but comps with higher MegPxl. His epic crazy camera comparisons also often demonstrate this.

          Obviously, DXO Measurements aside, a lot of this is subjective but… what most people describe as flat images is mostly a function related to the lens, not the sensor. Obviously larger sensors allow for shallow focus and more ‘pop’ to an image but it’s not too hard replicating this with even a m43. (Oly75, the f.95’s, etc. can do a great job).

          Don’t get me wrong, I really like Leica glass and the craftsmanship of their cameras, especially the older ones… but I also like Zeiss, Fujinon, Olympus, and so on. Most know the quality of Zeiss but they forget that Fujinon made some of the best glass for Large Format cameras. Leica didn’t compete in that market but focused on the the less technically capable tiny crop 35mm format…

          Although Leica also doesn’t seem to be that focused on competing with the best sensors (they don’t even make them of course) but they fully compensate with the glass.

          Regardless, shoot multiple cameras in the same situations with the same glass and you might be surprised. Also, technically better, sharper, more accurate color, etc. doesn’t always make the more pleasing image.

        • I would have to disagree with that statement. I shoot my old Nikkor 50mm f 1.4 on my x pro and the depth of field is razor thin. You just have to find the f stop and focal length that gives you the look you desire. Physics can be overcome whether you use a 4X5 or a cropped sensor

        • >>> The X-E1 / X-Pro1 have cropped sensors and don’t match the IQ of a full frame sensor no matter how much people might want them to.

          Obviously it does. Technology moves forward. Todays small sensors out preform yesterdays large ones. The M9 sensor is from yesterday although it is still quite good.

          Most sensors from the last couple of years are very good. The new ones are just better. If you need something fast to stop motion in ambient low light? You can get an idea of what is the best at this by the DXO scores given the same lens. Need to pull detail out of the shadows? Ditto DXO scores. I think OMD owners know why the OMD scored well for a m4/3 in DR.

          People who completely ignore ‘stats’ and believe in a camera at all costs… or those who regulate the M9 down to lomo status are both incorrect.

          It’s a great camera. The sensor doesn’t keep up with more modern ones including many newer APC sensors. That is a fact but it doesn’t mean it can’t take great pictures.

          • I’ll take the X-Pro 1 sensor over the sensor in the M9 any day, all day…without even batting an eyelash.

            And if Fuji decides to introduce a full-frame version of the X-Trans sensor in something like an X-Pro 2, all the other manufacturers (including Leica) will be scrambling, I suspect.

          • if Fuji produced a FF version of the X-Pro1 along with the same quality lenses like the Fuji 35mm f1.4 then I’d say that you are probably right.

        • Actually they do. Remember the 640k images from the Sony Mavica? The horrible low light performance of the first 3m Agfas?

          Of course, after a certain number of them its a declining advantage, but quality of sensor is directly related to the potential of the camera.

          Sometimes I think we get too defensive with “It’s the photographer, not the camera.” “It’s Shakespeare, not the pen”, etc. that we forget that the performance of our equipment does mater… the greater the performance the greater the potential. We still have to apply it creatively.

      • Hi Steve,

        Peter, on his Prosophos web site sees the cmos sensor as a step backward from the M9. I agree. I had a Canon 1D, the original one for a while and the CCD sensor has a quality that is hard to define, but relatively easy to see.I’ve owned an M8 as well, and now shoot with an X pro, whose files are cleaner than the M8’s, but the look is a little different.So there are arguements for both camps. I would argue that TO ME, the fujis files have more of an analogue look than the Leicas, but they can be made to look identical by tweaking the files a little in Lightroom.

        • Yes but Peter has not shot with a new M yet because if he has he would be singing a different tune. My full review is up tomorrow so I will not say anymore here 🙂

          • With all fairness to Peter though Steve all he is doing is commenting on the images thus far produced and put online by the new M.

            As an accomplished photographer I really don’t feel he has to have used the camera to be in a position to comment on the images he has so far viewed from it. How does that even come into it?

            Yes, we all know the high ISO’s are better (couldn’t be exactly worse could they) than the M9 but that apart most people are commenting as regards the “unique” images & rendering that the M9 (read M8 too) produced from those sensors as opposed to the images the new CMOS sensor has provided.

          • I love Peter, he is an awesome guy and we email back and forth on occasion. I was not in any way knocking Peter as his work is well above mine 🙂 I was just stating that he has not yet shot with one and for ANYONE to make a final word on a camera they have not even touched is a but premature. When he shoots with one I feel he may be swayed. We shall see, but that is my guess.

            As for the M9,I studied thousands of my photos with the M9 and looked at them comparing them to these new files. At the end of the day, and after a few days of shooting I look at the old M9 files and they seem off to me. For me, I prefer the new M rendering. For you or others, that may not be the case but I have to write about MY experience as that is all I can go by.

            Thanks for reading!

          • No, fair play that’s some good points you make Steve. Without even trying the camera out myself until I visit my dealer tomorrow even I can see the new M is a waaaaaaaaaaay better camera than the M9. Light years ahead technically and for usability.

            Also, as you say the rendering is going to be down to personal preference too which I fully understand. Camp A or camp B is all that amounts to I guess and we will all disagree about that for sure. Still think the new M looks closer to the Fuji X-Pro1 though but hey, even I’m happy with the rendering from that overall. 🙂

      • Superior is probably not the correct word. Definitely in ISO… the Fuji’s can be amazing at 3200 for a APC sized sensor. The resolving ability of some of those Fuji X mount lenses have also been very impressive. DPReview gave it a gold, and so on…

        But given a little light, both are very capable as are most modern sensors.

        Maybe it’s time for another crazy comparison? It’s dark outside, stick a lux on both of them and take some quick images… we will wait. lol!

        • To be clear about this, technology remains an important factor here, not just physics.

          The low light capability of the X-Pro 1 blows the doors off the M9, by probably 3 full stops or more, and yet the Fuji sensor is smaller.

          So full-frame sensors are certainly not a panacea when it comes to resolving quality images in low light.

          In fact, the only camera I have seen that can beat the X-Pro 1 for low light image quality is the NIkon D3s. But then nothing out there presently can really beat the D3s.

  78. Sorry but reviews of Leica digital M’s are littered with comments about poor low light results, poor high light results, noise, poor raw colour and a whole host of other comments that indicate the sensor leaves a lot to be desired. Equally, Leica users continue to talk about the Leica feel, quality build and wonders of owning such a great camera, so great that, like Steve Huff, they, too cannot wait to upgrade to the next one for better shadow, less highlight blow out, smoother results and any other conceivable idea. The truth here is that owners have to justify their expense and will convince themselves that the Leica really, really is worth the lunatic amount paid when, even without the DxO test, there is a sufficient body of evidence available to say that you’ve all be conned. You just don’t want to or ever will believe it. The digital Leica Emperor has no clothes on; there, someone’s said it.

    • Ive not seen one review of the Leica M by any reviewer who has stated the new M has poor low light results. IN fact, my tests have it above the RX1, which is incredible in low light. Poor RAW color? It is much improved over the M9 as is every single other aspect. I am afraid the comments you are reading are from those who have not used the camera.

      • I don’t think he was referring to the forthcoming M, but the digital M-Series to-date.

        In this respect, I think there is a point to be made for “the emperor has no clothes” argument.

        But that argument may well be laid to rest when the new ‘M’ arrives.

    • Its very simple they use a lens. They then discount the lens because that’s not what they want to test. Its just as flawed as their lens tests where they use a camera to test the lens. This may test the specific combination but a lens test no.
      The only real test of both cameras and lenses is in the use of them together. Some are ultra sharp images, some have colour pop, some have ‘character’ some just ‘are’. Take your pick and pay your money.

  79. “I have had maybe 30 e-mails from concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their came because of these results. The answer to that is a big fat NO”

    They should however probably question why they got into photography in the first place, and what they’re hoping to get out of it. Such delicate people, so ready to be blown in the wind, so unable to rationalise things on their own, so desperate for the affirmation of a Leica-centric gear blogger that they run to their mail client, how did they ever earn enough in the first place to afford a Leica?

    But then, lots of things about modern consumerism baffle me. I’ll just add this to the list.

  80. I can see that the test results come to that conclusion. One big part of the total score is the high ISO performance and the M9 sensor just doesn’t compare to modern DSLRs in that category. But within a decent ISO range the sensor performs really well.Combined with the other Leica features it still creates a compelling package. I switched from M9 to Nex 7 (not a full frame camera) a year ago and never liked the outcome. So I bought a used M9P a few months ago and still love the files. I own a Leaf DMF back and it doesn’t score as high in the DXO test compared to the D800. But when I compared both cameras I got better images from the Leaf camera when used at the base ISO. The high ISO performance usually kills the score. But that doesn’t mean that you get bad files from that camera. It just doesn’t have the flexibility that moderns sensors have.

    • How else would you measure them then? Tests mean quantifiable data. What quantifiable test would you apply where the results can be expressed in any thing other than numbers?

      • Why does a tool/plaything that produces a subjective result require any measurement of output. Quantifiable data? why.

        The eye sees what the eye sees. What the eye sees is what the senses get. With a photograph what the senses get is all that matters. There is no other defining factor.

        In 50 years time many people will look at photographs taken yesterday, today and tomorrow. They will either like them or not just as today, but none will ask for the test results created by any of the ‘experts’ today.

  81. Hahaha!

    It’s very difficult to argue with cult members but hopefully this prevent more people falling into the scheme called “$10000+ for a DIGITAL 35mm system that will be obsolete in 2 years – AKA Leica”:)))

      • Agreed Steve but there is a point to be made regarding in-built/inherent obsolescence with all technology. The lenses will always be relevant and in real terms a good investment if you study the price increases of Leica lenses over the years.

        One thing that has got me beat is that the body has never really changed much and I doubt if it will. It would be great to see Leica take a huge leap forward and create the new M camera as one where it can be sent back to Leica and get the sensor/electronics upgraded during the course of time.

        If we look at the M8, great camera in its day but genuinely obsolete when it comes to ISO/IQ and the same will be said for the M9 in a few years… you’re left with a body that is a work of art, beautiful build quality and a prehistoric sensor (3-4 years from now), it’s a sad reality but there’s a waste of great craftsmanship.

        • You are 100% correct here Stef, modern cameras have to be decoupled from their sensor. The sensors need to be changed and upgraded or there is no point in having a brass top and bottom. I have said this for a long time and it is not only a Leica problem.

          I still think the solution is a kind of digital film that you load into the back of the camera much like you did with film and then pull it out and download the raw files. As the tech moves on, you buy a new digital film that slots in with no adjustments required to the body itself. When that happens there will be a true transition from analogue to digital. At the moment the ‘film’ is controlling the camera’s life and that should never be the case.

          Who is going to do a kickstarter with me?

    • Obsolete? Nah, no more than a Canon 50D, which is far from obsolete.

      The bigger issue is that by most people’s standards, Leica is a poor value – that the price they are asking is simply not matched by the quality of the photo.

      Leica is at the top of the photographic diminishing returns curve.

  82. It’s kind of strange, but after few years i tend to prefer bodies or lenses that are simply destroyed in opinions of those stupid websites or photo-equipment forums. And i am the Canon shooter, with my shitty 5DII and 50 f/1.2L.

    It’s just like with film hassy with 80/2.8 T* lens, Leica with F1 Noctilux or Zeiss with their Planar 50/1.4 – great in real life, crappy on the internet forums. But who cares, anyway? 🙂

  83. Well….it might be true from a ‘technical’ standpoint that the M9 Sensor is not as high qualified as the modern DSLR’s..

    But than again the result of an image taken consist of many stages…sensor, lens, system, software etc…
    I think nobody will doubt about the fact that the Leica M (8 and 9) can make excellent results in images.
    So…. if we agree that the M9 CCD is not the most sofisticated Sensor, but it delivers with the Leica lens (or Zeiss or Voigtlander) trough the M Sytem (Sensor + Firmware) excellent images !!
    Than if the highlevel DSLR’s have that highlevel sensors…why don’t they excel in image quality, but only in Megapixel and dynamic range?

    The only conclusion I can make is: That the so called (by DXO) worst ever FF CCD sensor is enough to combine with excellent Glass to make more than nice images !

    Technical evolution can’t be stopped so FF 100Mp sensors will come…but images won’t be better.
    same as 6mp for most of the users is ENOUGH..

    The Video world speaks about 4K (4mp) …


    1. DxO is for electronic engineers
    2. They sell software
    3. Enjoy the magnificent M8, M9 or M
    4 Go out and make images

  84. Who cares? The CCD sensor in the M9 has properties that give a different took to the photographs. TOTALLY IRRELEVANT unless high ISO is of the most importance to you. AS always its about the art and vision being more important than meaningless test results. I like my X Pro more than I did my M8, but both can take superior images.

  85. I don’t think it is worth to sell your camera’s just because of those results. But it does put into perspective the ridiculous prices that Leica charge, and even more ridiculous prices they people will pay for something. I know Leica has its own “look” but it is simply not that groundbreaking, phenomenal, or whatever else someone must tell themselves to spend 10x the money for a technically inferior(subjective opinion) or at most, an equal product to other high-end systems. The problem is Leica has this cult-like following just as Apple does. Both make wonderful products but will make questionable decisions regarding design just because they know they a certain group of people will buy anything with their label on it. And until this cult following breaks, they will continue to do things like put outdated sensors in new cameras. If Sony or Nikon did this they would fail pretty quick.

    On the other side, their glass is simply second to none. It should speak volumes about about a lens company if their products are used medical, aerospace, and other industries where only the best is acceptable.

  86. First of all, this is NOT Science – DXO measures the discrete parameters of an applied technology.
    Remember how low the medium format sensors scored using their criteria; maybe their measurements, beyond a certain point, have no relevance to practical results.
    Or, to be kinder, maybe we have reached that threshold of sensor technology where further development does not yield any significant additional picture quality.

    • What’s wrong with the medium format scores? It’s well known that mf camera’s have terrible high iso performance. They perform really well at low iso, but they’re being overtaken by the newest cmos sensors. So the scores make sense too me. mf sensors are not bad, but the modern (sony) cmos sensors are just really good.

  87. I wouldn’t dare to do a technical testing of any camera, but I own a M8 with a Leica lens and my experience is that you can’t go beyond ISO 320 if you want a good quality photo. I considered upgrading to M9 but opinions are that the noise is not much better.

    So all in all I agree with DXO opinion. It’s a nice camera, very easygoing, lenses are excelent, but a camera of limited use.

    I don’t understand why Leica hasn’t developed better sensors.

      • +2

        My m8 fine up to 320…provided you don’t PS those 8bit files too much. Btw, my contax nd is great up to iso 100.

        Otherwise it’s my Nikon d700. And if I want to travel light, I use the 50mm and a good strap.

        I’m very tempted by that rx1

    • Good question, Luisa. I don’t know why Leica hasn’t made better sensors or more versatile cameras but I think it has to do with the challenges of developing a sensor that will work with M lenses. For some time Leica said it didn’t think it was possible to develop a full frame digital sensor that would work with M lenses. It has something to do with the angle at which the light hits the sensor. It was considered something of a miracle when Kodak came up with the sensor in the M9. Even then there were issues with wrong colors on the sides with very wide angle lenses.

      Even if that were true, why can’t Leica put a sensor cleaning system in the camera? Or an articulating screen with live view? I love my M9 because of the lenses but there is no arguing with the criticism that the body is grossly overpriced for what it offers.

  88. What can one expect from DxO who tests primitive P&O cams forsaking the seminal makes like Sigmas Merrils or Ricohs GXR m-mount unit. Big nothing.

  89. I guess the Foveon Merrill sensor would score at least as low as the M9. And the M9 and the DP2M are my favorite cameras;).

  90. Surprised to hear “worst results ever” but not surprised they aren’t super hot. I think Leica has always been about lenses, and goes to show how important those are. Anwyay, I don’t doubt DXO’s testing techniques or results.

    • True, but in the old days the sensor, pardon film, playing field was leveled. Leica is at a disadvantage these days as far as camera electronics are concerned. The question is how they are going to address the widening gap between them and e.g. a sensor powerhouse like Sony who pushed sensor boundaries in the last two years and will certaily continue to do so.

  91. I own both Nikon D4 and Leica M9-P. Obviously, the D4 can be shot up to some crazy ridiculous ISO and weighs in at like 5-lbs. I shoot the M9-P up to ISO 1000, which is fine for me. I love the results that come out of that camera … CMOS, CCD, whatever … I just love the results and not really sure I care about the science behind the magic. Don’t get me wrong, the D4 is no slouch when it comes to making pictures, but just a bit much to carry around for casual usage. I knew the CCD in the M9 lagged behind all the CMOS sensors back in 2009, so I didn’t need DxO to tell me that but again, I enjoy the results from this inferior CCD sensor, so go figure …

  92. DXO also rated the lens on RX1 third best in their lens rankings. On a 35mm lens, such high level distortion is ok with them and if they put it on the third best place, then certainly their criteria and mine are different. They lost me to say the least.

  93. When it comes to deciding which camera to choose, I have never listened and will never listen to DxO “tests”. My references are my eye and my ability to develop RAW files. I love my Leica M-E and the bunch of Leica primes that ennoble it.

    • Hi JR,
      You say that your reference are your eyes and your ability to develop RAW files. Does it mean you are unable to get better images from Canon or Nikon cameras when you use quality lenses like Carl Zeiss primes on them?


      • Zeisses on Canikons deliver high quality. But in a different way, with their own personality, which isn’t worse or better than results from a Leica. What I said is that your Leica body helps you to blend the Leica gestalt into your photography – which you won’t get from other systems, whatever DxO says about respective sensors.

  94. There is a long standing cliche and fallacy that a bumblebee can not fly according to science and physics. It’s wings are too small for it’s mass and shape. What gives it the ability to fly is actually the fact that it can flap it’s wings so fast. It goes to show that science means nothing in terms of real word application and that science can be used an illusion.

    • LOL.


      The lift provided by the wings of an insect are a very different story than the lift that is required to get larger objects off the ground. Your longstanding cliche is also a myth, so you might want to adjust your statement, unless you’re arguing that Leica’s quality is a myth.

      Science means a lot in terms of real world application.

      • LOL? Well i dont know wether i should LOL at the fact you didn’t even read what I wrote Or LOL at your posturing.

        I said that it was a cliche and FALLACY. DxO is not representative of IQ and has little to do with photography.

    • Bumble bees can fly. Barely!

      It is a poor sensor, one has to agree. Leica has managed to get the maximum out of that sensor and given the Leicaphiles an option to go digital. You only have to look at some of the fabulous images Steve McCurry shoots with his Nikons!

  95. Don’t really understand the problem… Nobody has ever pretended that Leica sensors had the best dynamic range or the best abilities in low light conditions… Leica owners like the crispness of their CCD sensors at base ISO, the color renditions. Size, portability, high quality lenses are the advantages of this system.

    The results of the M-240 may be really different, because of the CMOS sensor.

    But why such a buzz? There is no “DXO-mark conspiracy” against the photography…

  96. It’s true, but it’s not a secret.

    The M9’s sensor is technically inferior to that in many modern DSLRs when you measure in the manner and using the matrices set by DXO.

    So high ISO, and colour depth and dynamic range up the iso are poor. Find me an M9 user to whom that is news!

    Resolution, colour and tonality at base iso are, however, immense, espeically in such a small package which is such a joy to use.

    Sadly though, this “news” ties into two of the web’s worst traits – measuresterbation and brand wars!

    • Exactly. This is what I thought as well. Leica is all about handling, being a digital rangefinder camera, and lenses. So while I’m surprised the sensor performed like this, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

      • How else would you measure them then? Tests mean quantifiable data. What quantifiable test would you apply where the results can be expressed in any thing other than numbers?

        • Why measure them? Why do you have an overwhelming need to quantify, measure and create a massive data table on something that is well known and creates a subjective output? The result is not expressed in numbers, so no test is required. Are you, or anyone else going to study the Dox (or anyone elses) reports in fifty years time as a prerequisite for looking at any photos made using an M9. If it was suggested in fifty years time to be a prerequisite. The response would be a resounding “you’r nuts”

  97. Those DxO guys remind me of audio reviewers of 30 years ago, who used to evaluate gear without actually listening to it. Cheap Japanese receivers, direct drive turntables and, a little later, horrible Sony cd players used to get top marks, because they showed the best specs. At the time, most people could not believe that what they were hearing was so bad, since the figures were so good!

    My own sound system, an all tube affair with electrostatic loudspeakers that is worth the price of a small house, shows among the poorest specs of any audio product ever reviewed. But most visitors think it makes sound closer to real music than anything they have listened to.

    I don’t have an M9 or ME yet, as I still shoot only film, mostly with an MP and a variety of Leica lenses. But based on DxO’s results and my personal audio experience, I guess I will get one very, very soon, as I am pretty convinced it must produce the most beautiful (digital) images!

    • Martin:

      I like your analogy.

      I too love the sound of vacuum tubes and even vinyl records compared to solid state electronics and digital cd’s even though the latter would test significantly better in most measurements including signal/noise.

      The point is that technical measurements don’t always tell the whole story.

      We all know that the M9 isn’t that great for high ISO or dynamic range or shadow details,
      but combined with their legendary lenses, can still take photos that look like nothing else!

  98. Although I am not a Leica user I have listened to the comments with interest. For many years I had a Nikon D200 fitted with a CCD sensor and currently own a Nikon D7000 fitted with a CMOS. In my experience when using the cameras at ISO 100 I still prefer the results from the D200. However as soon as the ISO increases above 200 the CCD starts to fail dramatically when compared to the CMOS sensor. Maybe the processed data from CMOS sensors is just too perfect. I find the CCD sensor pictures more natural that is to say more like my film of the past. Of course, for most people comparing sensors, film is a thing of the past so all that counts is the incredible detail that is now obtainable by modern sensors. I would like however to point out that from the dawn of photography some have felt that too much detail simply spoils photographs. Google “The Onion Field” a wonderful pinhole photograph from the past in the Kodak Eastman Gallery.

    • ” I would like however to point out that from the dawn of photography some have felt that too much detail simply spoils photographs.”

      I strongly agree with this opinion.

      A month ago I bought an M9-P and is the best camera I’ve ever had.

      Anyone with doubts about the quality of this camera looking promotional photos made ​​in Cuba for his release.

  99. I had to Laugh LOUDLY at the “with the exception of the Canon 1ds” remark (10years old). I use a 1ds along with my X100 and am amazed how good it is for very old tech. Sure it needs leaving at iso 100 but it is still capable with skill and care with exposures.
    This benchmarking is crazy and the M9 is so stunningly capable as shown over and over again on your site Steve.
    Ignore their anal testing and love your photography.

    • Who? I don’t and for me i’m the one that counts.
      Images are subjective. No one will be interested in Dxo or any one else’s test results when they look at today’s photo in 20 years time.

  100. It’s Leica – emotions are high as usual 😉 It’s just a sensor data, no magic or trickery there, but I’m not surprised that Leica sensor, living on it’s own in Leica “bubble”, would not be technically on par with highly competitive sensor market (Nikon, Sony, Canon) – once you’ve got loyal (borderline cult) customers, you can easily be behind with this and that. Don’t get me wrong, I understand all the Leica “greatness and all”, it just fits to this camera-segment probably with the worst price/performance ratio possible – no need for panic either way, business as usual.

  101. Any man who is upset by this news is missing the whole point of its publication. This report gives all of us the cover that we need to tell our wives that the purchase of the new Leica M is a demonstrated necessity. And because this report will depress the resale and trade-in values of the M9, we have no alternative but to hang onto them as secondary bodies. This is a win-win situation if handled properly.

    Joel Turrell
    M3, M8.2, E-M5, D600, R8/DMR, GXR/Mmount,& others

  102. Third paragraph into their review and already a factual error. They list the M9-P as having a list price of $5450 when I believe it was closer to $7,995. Looks like they mixed up the list price of the M-E and M9-P.

  103. I own a Leica ME and a 35mm summicron and I don’t give a damn. DXO got their test results, fine, and so what? The truth is every time I upload the photos to my computer I’m absolutely blown away by the awesome IQ this camera/lens combination produces. I’ve never seen something as good and for the record I owned several Canon full frame bodies and L lenses.

  104. Personally I think DXO is biased, but it’s not a problem to me, since I find boring to look at test charts and numbers. Show me photos taken with a camera + lens and I know what kind of results I can achieve with that combo (composition and project is up to me). That’s why I love mr. Huff reviews.

    • Well, while I understand your sentiments, with any technology there is the science and the art of it. To disregard one or the other is folly. Leica glass would not have the following it does today if it did not focus so keenly on the science of optics. Hence, from the photographers perspective, shooting with Leica glass is now pure poetry. Camera sensors are no different.

      • The makers do the testing and analysis and apply the science. If one likes what they do, then one purchases their product.
        The after market testers have no influence on the manufacturer and do photography a disservice. They contribute nothing to photography in any form. In many instances their methods are flawed.

        The images from users are of far more value in assessing the quality of equipment than any third party measurements.
        In 20 years time what is seen is a photo, that is then subjectively liked or ignored by another generation. Where is the test report?

        No these tester people do not contribute to the improvement of the tool/equipment, competition does that.

        • wow, your comment is.. i’m speechless. you can’t be serious. so you honestly believe that manufacturers should be the only ones who do research, and the buyers should buy and decide if they like or not based on.. what? on brand name? on social status? “impressions”? so independent testing does nothing to improve technology? sounds like you would be right at home in the middle ages, first inline to light up under Copernicus’ stake. Get a grip on reality, i can tell you love leica, and that’s fine, but there is NO competition without independent testing. What DXO is doing is brilliant, and i’m amazed it took so long for somebody to start doing it.

          and for the rest of Leica fanboys here: DXO tested the sensor, not the leica camera. can you understand the difference? they never claimed this test defines the camera, it’s ergonomics, it’s lenses, or for that matter the final results you will obtain. It is _useful_ information, if you don’t like having useful information, stop reading.

          The reviewer had to write this to calm you all down, and you still don’t get it, read again.

          I strongly disagree with answering “no” to those who asked “should i sell my leica?”. the correct answer is “yes! sell it now” because if you have to ask this question, it means you’re not using it anyway, if you’d be using it, you would just shrug at these results, smile, and keep shooting. sell it, it’s a shame, it’s supposed to be a photographers tool, buy an older leica if you want a collectors item. actually, don’t sell it, if you could afford it without actually using it, do a young talented photographer a favor, and donate it instead (it’s a worthless piece of crap anyway, see DXO test)

  105. It is only to be expected… And if their results provided similar conclusions to ‘real use reviews’ who would notice them… In many ways it is the same as saying a Leica film camera produces mediocre results no different from the average camera when used with Kodak Tri-X, but not actually taking photographs – just assessing the film potential from a chemical and structure standpoint and ignoring the development and printing. We all know that different photographers produce different types of and different quality of images from their cameras – so if you are happy with the quality of your images, whether from an M film camera, M9 or offering from ”Cankon” etc, then carry on with the confidence that any sensor review has no impact whatsoever on your work!

  106. Great comments and I agree with everything you said. I own the Nikon D800E and I find myself using it very rarely in comparison to my Leica cameras. Size, simplicity, and challenge to shoot with the Leica is what draws me to it. As with anything, personal preference in my opinion is what it comes down to.

    Last, camera makers (computer and smartphone makers also) know that it’s only a small portion of technical junkies (yes, I’m one of them to a degree) that buy their devices purely on their specs.


  107. I just came back from the Man Ray Portraits exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London – it showcased 150 stunning images from between 1916 – 1968. I wonder what the DXO test scores for his cameras were…

    • They would have tested them, but a whole team of experts was unable to locate the sensor. Everybody is still puzzled how they even managed to produce images 🙂

  108. Anyone who has actually USED and OWNED an M9 knows the truth. They also realise how useless these numbers tests are compared to actual images.

    • “the truth” ™? 🙂
      I think the fact is that even with a P&S you can shoot great pictures. Having good lenses helps and expands your possibilities. The Leica digital back allows you to use these lenses, but it isn’t really as good as other cameras fitting those lenses per adapter.
      However, back to line one, it dosn’t really matter either way.

    • Duane, the landscape shot is lovely but the sky is blown. The RX 1 would have fared much better.

      DXO mark rated the M9 years ago, so this is old news or new to people who did poor research. One year from now, tho, when two or three non-Leica full fame bodies will be available for use with M lenses, Leica’s high prices and difficulty in keeping up with modern technology will tell.

      Meanwhile, don’t bash “science.”there are scientific explanations for why bumblebees fly, sensors suck, and certain lenses succeed. Science is cool. Unless you take the view that the M9 was designed (intelligently??) by God as a Devine instrument for reallocating wealth in the world (hands of the few to hands of the fewer).

      Good luck shooting your M9s, 240s, or whatever. Talented folks will take glorious pics even with an M3 filled with Ilford HP. Wait, they did.

      • your talk is full of non-sense : you start writing that the M9 is technology-limited, and later you end up saying that “talented folks” will take better photos even with the technological constraints of an M3+ilford setup.

        So do you mean that the M9 is bad because it is TOO limited, or not limited ENOUGH compared to an M3 ??? :-/

    • Very nice image. Impressive to be from such a bad full frame camera

      People need to realise that the photographer and motif matters so much more than the camera. 🙂

  109. its pathetic and quite suspicious!! the M9 has been out for years and they choose to reveal these findings now, just when Leica have brought out a CMOS alternative!! its a joke!

    • Yes, strange they decide now is the time to test it and not 2009 when it was launched eh’?

      Never took them that long to get around to testing the M8 for some reason???

      • They test the cameras and lens combinations for their software program which can automatically compensate for flaws. I guess the public tests are for marketing reasons mostly. Still, I can’t imagine the Leica lenses to need much “correction”…?

    • it is cause they want their m9 second hand, and they want it cheap…
      badmouth is a good way to do it.
      as in steve article: “I have had maybe 30 e-mails from concerned M9/ME owners asking me if they should sell their camera, cause their just received a good offer from guy who did dxo test. for 3000, take it or leve it… throw in some lenses, will you?

    • This is normal for them for a variety of reasons. (Some times they discuss it on their blog)

      It took them a long time to test the OMD but that last Panny was tested about the time it was shipping.

      They can’t currently test the Fuji’s because of its unique sensor. Etc.

      Again, they something discuss their reasoning on their site.

    • You seem more bothered by the timing more than the results.

      If they tested the camera 8 months ago, would you have said the same?

      Just curious.

    • Relax, DxO cannot even manage to test the Foveon sensor. So much for being an scientific test of sensors. It is merly a test of the Bayer sensor and does not say anything about resolution nor colour resolution.

      At any rate it is only the ignorant that buy a camera based on specs or tests. The informed user understands the system and chooses it because it fits with her/his needs.

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