LEICA M9 vs LEICA M10 – Side By Side shots! By Bernd Reinhardt

LEICA M9 vs LEICA M10 – Side By Side shots!

PHOTOS By Bernd Reinhardt – His website is HERE

(Written words by Steve) – Ahhh the M9 “LOOK”! When the M240 came out, I remember many upset that it lost the look of the M9 files. To me, the M 240 files were richer, had greater dynamic range, had better low light capabilities and offered a warmer, rather that cooler presentation. To me, it was a more mature Leica M. But to some others, they missed the M9 punch. CCD vs CMOS was the issue according to many in internet land but a few years later the M10 was released and even I thought that the files were much closer to the look of the M9 while bringing low light benefits that slaughtered the M9’s horrible low light capabilities.

Below are some photos by Bernd Reinhardt shot with the M9 along with a 50 Summilux ASPH and the M10 with the 50 APO Summicron. You can see them below, and click them for larger views. I feel the M10 is a much better camera than the original M9 as we get a much nicer LCD (The M9 LCD is embarrassing by todays standards), a slimmer feel, longer battery life, ISO 10K that can be usable in some certain scenarios, and the much nicer menu system, and faster processing speeds. The M10 is Leica’s best M to date though I still have a soft spot for the M240 series, as well as that MD (No LCD Version).

Take a look at the M9 vs M10 images below and see what you think! Thanks again to Bernd for doing this!

M10 will always be the 1st image in each series, then the M9. Click them for larger versions. 



 vs Leica M


  1. dear madams and sirs,
    with all respect to you all, but this seems to be a kind of discussion on no common ground at all to me – like most of all similar discussions in the net.
    i mean you are comparing apples with pears – as already mentioned. on the one hand probably not many of you use such a camera as a professional tool in news-, reportage- or portrait-photography, shooting dng-files, and considering a bit less magenta, a bit more of clarity and a little less saturation in the files to be part of the pre-settings in the professional workflow. and in respect to that it does not matter at all if the m10 files appear in jpg mode a bit warmer or whatever.
    on the other hand i think we all will agree the image quality on all digital m cameras is really good, but from a professional camera – and this is what i demand a digital leica m has to be – i expect more than that. i expect the basics like appropriable image quality, easy and fast handling of all the necessary functions (which is for me not given with sony-cameras for example), quality craftsmanship and durability, a professional background service (which could be better with m-cameras) and also the right “feeling” when using this tool. the m9 to me is a very nice camera, but in professional aspects the m 240 is much superior to the m9 as the m10 is much superior to the m 240. and we have the year 2018 and in a lot of photographic situations i would not able to compete with a leica m9. it is too slow in several aspects – it was even too slow for my purposes when it came out in 2009. i tried it and came to the conclusion i am even faster in shooting with my m2 then, because the m2 takes a picture immediately when i grab it an press the release button. in a serous comparison a leica m10 responds much faster than the m9, produces larger files (which is sometimes quite helpful), stores the pictures much faster, you can shoot at iso 3200 and more (which is also very helpful sometimes) – and it is even smaller, it feels much more like my old ms! i fully understand if somebody loves a camera because it is like it is – i love my m2 which is 60 years old and use it regularly – but not for work!
    so if i see that correct the above discussion is about the image quality compared between m9 and m10 – here based on the pictures above from which i have not found out if it where jggs or dngs, or if or how they where processed – sorry mr. reinhardt 🙂 – and most of you even charge the quality on not hardware-calibrated screens in not calibrated light surroundings.
    so what to say?
    rgds h. prammer

  2. After a few years with all the modern cameras (A9, a7III, GFX50s etc.) I had lost the pleasure of photographing until I bought a very good, used M9 with new sensor including Lux35 & Cron 50 (1979) 1 month ago , Back to the basics. The colors are just beautiful. I like to overlook the disadvantages of the M9! Let the pictures speak, not the technique.

  3. We are splitting pixels
    Given the slight differences do you really want to spend the asking price of the M10? Isn’t that the question?
    Love leica but get frustrated by the asking price and now reliability. Even when they release a budget model there is nothing inexpensive about it because you have to buy the extras to make it function aka a $700 Visoflex with the TL or some stratospheric expensive lens that’s made by someone else only to have to return some of it to Leica to repair. There is now a litany of stuff ups that shouldn’t happen.
    Hence if the Leica you have works, the chances are the one you get may work or not. Hence I would rather not spend the money on an M10 or an SL or Tl2 for the repair department to have it for 90 days if the M9 currently works and there is a minor difference.
    I am sure other manufacturers are not better or are worse. Leica is expensive. You expect better. Much better. The closest to perfection. It seems a bridge too far right now.

  4. I am really taken back by how remarkably little difference there is between M9 and M10.

    I saw another comparison with full sized images and there was next to no difference except in colour.

    • yes, and exactly this difference in color is the difference between magic and boring. the M9 has more colorcontrast, or simply more pure colors. It might be because of the limited lightcababilities, but the contrast, the blacks, the deep colors… to me I prefer the M9. I rented the M10, but colors where to warm and when lowering the warmth, I cldnt get the magic M9-look.

  5. Trying to discern differences looking at images down-sized for the web, camera set at near-base ISO and shot at ƒ/5.6? ‘Punch’ perhaps reflecting a more accurate focus by one camera over the other?

    Good luck with that.

    • They are all sharp. That is something you just have to take my word for. This comparison is mainly about color rendering at base ISO, and I found that the M10 rendered colors closer to real-life. The M9 has a little cyan shift in the shadows, which might remind some people of film.

  6. The M9 files simply look more 3D and realistic, and the objects pop out more.
    Of course the M10 files are very pleasing too, but knowing that under the same situation, the M9 files are more magical, I would definitely take the M9 with me. I’ve had my M9 with me for 8years now too. I’ve owned the M240 and Leica Q, but I still end up using the M9.

  7. I have both of them and when I shoot digital FF I most of times grab my Pentax K1 with just one manual lens. Go figure.

  8. As an M9 owner and without knowing how these images where imported, exported o even shot (base ISO) I have to say that the M10 files are more contrasty and colors are punchier (at least on my MacBook Air). Every colour looks more saturated, less washed and more appealing to me, not only reds. I am sure that the same effect can be effortlessly achieved in PP even when importing. But the M10 files shown here look more mature to me.

    To those claiming that the M9 is the best at rendering skin tones… I always have very hard times with some peoples cheeks and nasty magenta casts. Very annoying.

    That said, I love my M9 and pictures glow even on its crappy LCD. It is an amazing camera and it is 8 years old already OMG.

  9. It’s difficult to know which has the more accurate colours but the M10 seems more saturated. This is especially evident on the guys shirt in the couples shot. I wonder if you turned the saturation slider down a tiny bit whether that would bring the two cameras together more from a colour point of view, especially the skin tones.
    As for resolution, it is impossible to tell unless we can look at the shots at 100%.

  10. Thank you all for your comments. I did this comparison last summer when I got a chance to test the M10. I really enjoyed the camera, and I took it out to shoot at night to put it through its paces. I know how the M9 performs and i usually limit the ISO to 1,000. With the M10, I went up to 6,400 with no reservations. The next day I decided to do the daylight comparison. I did the same test with the M240 when it came out. I have to add that this was with the original firmware on the M240 with the horrible tendency toward very warm colors, which was later corrected. I did this mostly for myself to see if I would give up anything in daylight if I switched to the M10.
    My conclusion is that I would certainly be happy with the output of the M10 in any situation, and I will probably get one at some point. As many have mentioned though, the M9 is really still a mighty fine camera, and considering that I also use my beloved MM1, which uses the same batteries, and I shoot a lot of film with an MP and some medium format cameras, the upgrade is not something I can really justify at the moment. I love my Leica rangefinders, and I have definitely been getting my money’s worth out of the M9.

  11. I agree with the above poster who stated that the most amazing thing about this comparison is that it is even necessary or interesting. Can you imagine the collective ‘ho hum’ if someone were to do a comparison of sony a7iii vs a7 files? That says a lot about the M9 files.

    I must say that in most of the instances any difference in color palette or dynamic range were negligible. But the M9 renders skin tones – all skin colors – in a much more pleasing and realistic manner. I’ve seen that consistently in every one of these M9 vs. M10 vs. Whatever comparisons.

  12. i have both of them. i really love the m9, and i love the m10. but one thing i hate about the m10, the clipping highlight on the jpg file is so bad. its very sensitive. both are excellent camera.

  13. I still prefer the M9. But if you don’t agree, you should go to a Nikon or Sony, which have better sensors, I think, than the M10.

  14. Thank you Bernd for doing this. It is not easy to do these kinds of comparisons. Of course the peanut gallery is yelling at you, telling you to “go out and shoot.” But the question is legitimate: is the M9 still the best camera with a 36×24 sensor (as far as colour is concerned)?

    IMHO, I think the M10 looks slightly better. However, and this is what this test does not show: can you get better tones out of the M9 in the RAW converter? Of course everyone has their preferences – some people don’t touch the images, apart from optical corrections, WB and exposure. Some add a little contrast, a little saturation, a little vibrance, a little microcontrast. Those are not huge adjustments but they matter.

  15. I think the simple fact that in the year 2018 we are still discussing a camera launched in 2009 shows how important the Leica M9 is. In my opinion it remains perfect, even if the M10 is technologically more advanced.

    • Well, you could of course say that, but at the same time I hate it when they change something that is working well (for me). I’d rather wish they’d release an updated M9 with faster processor and better LCD. Oh, and a much bigger battery!

  16. How about a comparison between the M8 versus the M10. Then we would have the very first M digital versus the most recent. I think that could be pretty interesting. I am a big fan of the M8 as I’ve only owned one for a number of years and I think the files are absolutely beautiful. Aside from the obvious advantage of the full frame with the M10 and the low-light I suspect that the M8 will more than hold its own.

  17. There’s very little I can take away from this comparison, since the two camera bodies were used with different lenses. In general I see a bit more shadow detail in the M10 shots. But basically, this side-by-side comparison is akin to comparing apples with oranges.

    • The difference between the 50Apo and the 50lux aspherical is negligible when stopped down to 5.6, and just for good measure I put the “better” lens on the M10. I don’t think the different lenses played a role here.

      • Right. I cannot see any real differences at all. No hurry to buy a M10 when you have a M9 with a non corroded sensor and stick to lower ISOs.

      • I disagree that the differences between the two lenses are negligible, even at f/5.6. I’ve shot extensively with both, and while both are fine lenses, they are quite different in the way they render a scene.

      • The different lenses render differently, for sure. The Cron APO is contrastier and on the cooler side, where the lux is warmer and just a tad softer.

        • I don’t think this is accurate. I have done a side by side test between the 50lux and 50Apo on my M9, and the color is a match. There are other tests on the net, and the difference between the two lenses when they are stopped down is only apparent in 100% view, and mostly in the corners. Even at f2 it would be difficult to tell a difference. But either way, if you say the 50 lux is warmer and a tad softer, know that this was the lens I used on the M9.

  18. I’ve often thought there was something slightly different aesthetically to the M9 files…but the M10 and even the M240 are superior to it in almost every way. I remember seeing a post years ago where someone posted around 50 shots from an M240 processed to look like M9 files and 50% of the time people guessed wrong on a blind test as to which was which.
    If you can get a good deal on an M9 with a replaced sensor I say go for it, but the M10 is a far superior camera.

  19. Very difficult to compare images such as these on the web !
    Happy to concede to the M10 but in certain circumstances the ccd images of the M9 do indeed astonish me !
    I would however prefer to own an M10 though – as it’s the best Leica M there is – except for the film M3 of course !
    Enjoy whatever camera you have !
    Regards Fergus

  20. Thanks for the post Bernd.

    I just looked on my iMac 4k screen, hmmm slightly prefer the M9 files, I have tested and used both as well and preferred the M9 look. I also have a soft spot for my M240 when used with the new Summarit f2.4 lenses after seeing a post from Steve, the colour is nicer as I always felt that my Summilux did not match the M240 well. Cheers

  21. There is a massive difference in red tones.
    You can see it extreme in the picture of the boy and girl. He is the waring backpack, see the red color difference!

    • Your right, you can see it in the Hero billboard, the M10 is warmer (more orange), in the head shot portrait.. I suspect if this was caucasian skin (not Florida sun kissed, but overcast England), then it would be more noticeable. In my opinion, landscape colour matters less, warming a photo is advantageous. But our eye are well trained to skin tone accuracy. In the M9/240 David Farkas comparison, many of the guesses were 50/50 correct, except those with people for those, most responses were correct. Like everyone has said here the M10 is the better camera as the M9 has a step fall off in low light. As I’m typically only taking one camera to an event, I like the option of video and my wife, expects video if the children are involved. Take a nice shot for the mantel, and a video of the signing/dancing.

    • I think only a real “Leicaman” can spot the difference Anthony !
      To bad there is no picture of the obligated brickwalls too…………

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